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December 8, 2012

Te'o finishes second to Manziel


A look back at Manti Te'o - Images by Matt Cashore

Twenty-five years since the last time a Notre Dame football player was named the winner of the Heisman Trophy, Manti Te'o's bid to become the eighth in Irish history fell just short.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, a red-shirt freshman, was named the 78th annual winner of the Heisman Trophy. Manziel becomes the second Texas A&M player to win the coveted award. Running back John David Crow won the award with the Aggies 55 years ago in 1957.

Manziel received 474 first-place votes and 2,029 total points. Te'o finished second with 321 first-place votes and 1,706 total points. Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein finished third with 60 first-place votes and 894 total points.

Moments before the winner was announced, Te'o reflected on the day his grandmother and girlfriend passed away in September. He said the first two people to come to his aid were defensive coordinator Bob Diaco and head coach Brian Kelly.

"There are a hundred-plus people on our team, and the defensive coordinator and our head coach took the time to just go get one, and I think that was the most meaningful to me," Te'o said.

Te'o also credited his father, Brian, with getting him focused on the important things in life after he decided to return to Notre Dame for his senior season.

"When I decided to come back for my senior year, my dad told me, 'I want you to focus on strengthening your spiritual life. Not how much you can bench, how fast you can run, studying film, I want you to strengthen your spiritual life.' And that's exactly what I did.

"I always used to say put your Heavenly Father first. But I learned that if you put Him first, He'll put you first, and that's exactly what I experienced this year with my team."

Te'o said he'd miss the "purity" of college football.

"The love, seeing the students in the stands and your parents in the stands, and just knowing I have guys next to me that sweat, bled and cried with me during the hardest times. That's something I'll always remember."

Added Te'o in the video presentation: "I want to be remembered as someone who gave Notre Dame his all."

Although Te'o fell short in his quest for the Heisman, he'll hardly return to the Notre Dame campus empty handed. In the last week, Te'o has been named the winner of the Maxwell Award, the Walter Camp National Player of the Year, the Lombardi Award, the Bronco Nagurski Trophy, the Butkus Award and the Bednarik Award.

Te'o was bidding to become the first "exclusively defensive player" to win the award. Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson, who won the Heisman in 1997, also played receiver and returned kicks for the Wolverines. Manziel is the first freshman to win the award.

Notre Dame remains tied with Ohio State and USC for the most Heisman Trophy winners with seven. (Ohio State's Archie Griffin won it twice.) Notre Dame's last Heisman Trophy winner was Tim Brown in 1987.

The 25 years since an Irish player last won the Heisman Trophy is the longest such streak at Notre Dame since Angelo Bertelli became the first Irish recipient in 1943. Notre Dame won the award six times in a 22-year span, starting with Bertelli, and followed by John Lujack (1947), Leon Hart (1949), John Lattner (1953), Paul Hornung (1956) and John Huarte (1964). Twenty-three years passed between Huarte and Brown winning the Heisman.

The Irish now have had four players finish second in the voting. In addition to Te'o, Bertelli finished second in 1941, as did Joe Theismann in 1970 and Raghib Ismail in 1990.

Six have finished third: Bill Shakespeare in 1935, Lujack in 1946, Nick Eddy in 1966, Terry Hanratty in 1968, Ken MacAfee in 1977, and Brady Quinn in 2006.

Five have finished fourth: Creighton Miller in 1943, Ralph Guglielmi in 1954, Tom Clements in 1974, Tony Rice in 1989 and Brady Quinn in 2005.

Seven have finished fifth: Bob Williams in 1949, Lattner in 1952, Hornung in 1955, Jack Snow in 1964, Ross Browner in 1977, Vagas Ferguson in 1979, and Reggie Brooks in 1992.


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