No gimmicks for Te'o in Heisman race

November, 20, 2012
11/20/12
5:00
PM ET
Will the Heisman Trophy go to a freshman for the first time? Will it go to a defense-only player for the first time?

If the latter does happen, it won't come with any gimmicks.

Brain Kelly does not ignore the fact that giving Manti Te'o a couple of carries could, in theory, make him more marketable to voters of the sport's highest individual honor. But he's not about to get reckless with his all-everything linebacker.

"It never crossed my mind," Kelly said Tuesday, laughing. "But we have a lot of people that have opinions on that, I will tell you that. And that won't happen. He's going to play linebacker, and that's it. And if he can't win the Heisman at linebacker, then he can't win the Heisman."

Earlier this season, noseguard Louis Nix, Notre Dame's funny man, said his younger siblings have the strange idea that big brother is the Irish's signal-caller. Nix may have joked that Kelly should put him in the backfield, but he hasn't made any pleas for the linebacker playing behind him.

"Never underestimate the power of Louis Nix -- he can probably influence me on that more than maybe anybody else," Kelly said. "I would say that was out there and certainly was played up a little bit with the players in our program that wanted to volunteer at that position for Manti after hearing rumors of it.

"At no time did I even give it -- how am I going to, if I put that guy at running back and he gets hurt, I'll be coming back from that recruiting trip. I won't get the chance to stay out on the West Coast" following the USC game this weekend.

ESPN Insider's Ryan McCrystal, the developer of the Heisman Predictor formula, currently has Te'o a distant third , behind Collin Klein and front-runner Johnny Manziel.

McCrystal says an invite to New York for the ceremony is all but locked up for Te'o, but he will likely need both Kansas State and Texas A&M to lose, along with another strong prime-time performance Saturday, to give himself a realistic chance of winning the trophy.

Matt Fortuna | email

College Football

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