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In college football, the biggest individual award is the Heisman Trophy. This year, it is likely history could be made, with the two leading candidates both poised to make history by winning the trophy.
I’m excited that there’s a chance we could see history made. I’m more excited by the fact that Manti Te’o, a linebacker for the Fighting Irish, is a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. Defensive players rarely even get nominated for the Heisman, let alone win it. So far, only one primarily defensive player has won the award. Charles Woodson of the University of Michigan took it in 1997, beating out Peyton Manning. Woodson wasn’t a purely defensive player, though he gained a lot of media attention for his punt-returning ability.
Te’o isn’t the favorite, but I would love to see him win it. He has been huge for the Irish this year and has anchored one of the best defensive unites in the nation. He had the most interceptions of any linebacker in the nation with seven. That also was the second-best in the nation. Te’o also led Notre Dame with 103 tackles and won the Butkus Award as the country’s best linebacker.
The Fighting Irish will take on the University of Alabama in the BCS Championship game on Jan. 7.
There’s another chance history could be made, even if Te’o doesn’t win the Heisman. One of the favorites to win the award is Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who could become the first freshman to win the award. As a freshman, he has surprised a lot of people with strong numbers, but his team has gone 2-2 against ranked teams.
Manziel has a strong chance of winning the award, and helped his team get the biggest win of the year against then-top-ranked Alabama.
With Manziel and Te’o both bringing strong credentials to the table, this is expected to be a very close vote. The closest Heisman race was in 2009, when Alabama running back Mark Ingram narrowly beat out the University of Stanford running back Toby Gerhart by 28 votes. This year’s race could be closer.
While Manziel has a huge win over the Crimson Tide and has put up great numbers, Te’o has been invaluable to his team. Without him, there’s no way Notre Dame is ranked No. 1 in the nation or in the National Championship game.
I’d like to see Te’o lift the trophy, but I am pretty biased on the subject. I’ve been a fan of Notre Dame football since I was a little kid. I also really would love to see a pure defensive player win it. I do think I can see past my bias and say he is a great player and is deserving of the award.
It will be fun to watch this year’s ceremony. In a lot of years, pretty much everyone knows who is going to win before the announcement is made, but it’s up in the air this season. The award will be presented on Saturday night in Manhattan, N.Y.