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Saturday, December 8, 2012
Te'o falls just short of Heisman history

By Matt Fortuna

Manti Te'o's historic Heisman Trophy chase came up short Saturday night, as voters went with Texas A&M sensation Johnny Manziel for football's most prestigious individual award.

It shouldn't come as too big of a surprise, given the fact that no exclusively defensive player has ever won the Heisman. But Te'o did come closer than any other pure defender ever, notching 1,706 points, behind Manziel's 2,029.

Yes, Manziel carries the label of freshman (or, more accurately, redshirt freshman), but when you play under center, break the SEC record for total offense (4,600 yards) in two games fewer than Cam Newton -- a previous Heisman winner -- and lead a road upset of then-No. 1 and defending national champion Alabama, well, you have a lot going for you.

The nickname Johnny Football is simply awesome, too.

If nothing else, Te'o was spared another New York trip, and he can re-join his Notre Dame teammates after Sunday night's trip to Newport Beach, Calif., for the Lott IMPACT award ceremony.

Te'o's week remains historic, and it will tough for a future player to top it, be it on offense or defense. He won six national awards, breaking Charles Woodson's 1997 record of five. Te'o won three awards Thursday night at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show, including the Maxwell player of the year award, which, by definition, is not exactly all that different from the Heisman Trophy.

The senior linebacker broke a barrier in winning that, too, becoming the first defensive player to win the Maxwell Award since 1980, and the first non-quarterback to win it in 10 years.

Now the whirlwind week is coming to a close, and Te'o can get back to the business of trying to beat Alabama and win a national title.

Something tells me that's more important to him.