The last place Manti Te’o wanted to be after his fake girlfriend fiasco became public was anywhere near a spotlight. He went into hiding, as much as he could.

That will change, though, if he is drafted by the Giants on Thursday night and is forced to begin his NFL career in New York.

What seems on the surface like a terrible fit could become a reality if the Giants are willing to take a leap of faith on the controversial Notre Dame linebacker’s character and ability. The Giants have the 19th pick in the first round and have huge holes on their depth chart at his position. Te’o is projected by most scouts as a late first-round, early second-round pick.

In other words he’ll almost certainly be available when the Giants are on the clock.

Whether they would pick him or not is unclear (as are most things in the days before the NFL draft). Some NFL insiders believe it’s a longshot, but the Giants haven’t exactly ruled it out. They even snuck Te’o into town for a pre-draft visit in early April — one of the 30 pre-draft visits they are allowed by NFL rules — and Giants GM Jerry Reese called him “a very nice young man” and said they had “a good conversation.”

Te’o also got an endorsement from Giants defensive end Justin Tuck, a fellow Notre Dame alum.

“I think he’d do well (with the Giants),” Tuck said. “I think whoever drafts Manti is going to get a great player. I know a lot of the scrutiny comes from the girlfriend thing and how he played against Alabama (in the national championship game), but I’ve had an opportunity to see Manti grow from a freshman to what he is now. And I think on the football field, he’s going to be really, really successful for whoever drafts him.”

The “girlfriend thing,” though, is the elephant in the locker room. Surely every NFL player has heard the story by now about Te’o’s infamous love, Lennay Kekua, who supposedly died during his senior season, then turned out to be nothing more than an elaborate hoax. And though Te’o insists he was the victim, not the perpetrator, his supposed ignorance won’t be enough to shield him from what could be some harsh locker-room jokes.