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Manti Te'o says he was not involved in girlfriend hoax

Notre Dame star Manti Te'o has broken his silence.

The All-American linebacker told ESPN's Jeremy Schaap in an off-camera interview on Friday night that he was not involved in the online hoax involving a deceased girlfriend named Lennay Kekua who never actually existed.

"No, never," Te'o said in an interview with ESPN's Jeremy Schaap that stretched two-and-half hours.

"I wasn't faking it," he said. "I wasn't part of this."

Te'o admitted to Schaap that he had made some mistakes, including lying to his father about having met Kekua.

"That goes back to what I did with my dad," Te'o said, via Schaap. "I knew that -- even that it was crazy that I was with somebody that I didn't meet, and that alone people find out that this girl who died I was so invested in, and I didn't meet her as well. So I kind of tailored my stories to have people think that, yeah, he met her before she passed away."

Schaap said Te'o didn't fully believe Kekua was a ficticious entity until Wednesday, when Ronaiah Tuiasosopo called him and admitted he was behind the hoax. Te'o showed Schaap Twitter messages from Tuiasosopo in which he apologized and expressed regret for embarrassing the linebacker.

It's been speculated that Te'o was in on the hoax in a bid to better his chances to win the Heisman Trophy, a theory he dismissed.

"When (people) hear the facts, they'll know," Te'o said. "They'll know that there is no way that I could be part of this."

Schaap said Te'o answered every question posed to him in a comprehensive manner. The new details make it seem at least feasible that Te'o was a legitimate victim here, but doubt could follow him into his NFL career and beyond.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.

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