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Te'o, finalist for Heisman Trophy; wins Butkus, Nagurski awards

By Ferd Lewis

LAST UPDATED: 05:59 p.m. HST, Dec 03, 2012

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o today became the first Hawaii born and bred player to be invited to New York as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, the most prestigious award in college athletics.

Te'o was one of three players chosen to appear at Saturday's awarding of the trophy on ESPN. Electronic balloting among 928 voters concluded Monday morning.  

Earlier in the day Te'o was announced as the winner of the Butkus Award which goes to the top college linebacker. Later in the day Te' o added the Bronco Nagurski Trophy as the nation's top college defensive player to his haul of postseason awards.

Te'o was in Charlotte, N.C. for the Nagurski banquet when his Heisman invitation was announced.

The other Heisman finalists announced today are Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein.

"I don't think ever, in our wildest dreams we ever thought for one minute (before this season) he would be considered for the Heisman," Brian Te'o, Manti's father, told the Star-Advertiser prior to the announcement. 

The highest finish by a Hawaii born and bred player was a fourth in 1945 by running back Herman Wedemeyer, a Saint Louis School graduate who played for St. Mary's (Calif.). 

UH's Colt Brennan was third in 2007 behind Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and Arkansas running back Darren McFadden.

The announcement of finalists for the Heisman Trophy comes amid growing anticipation of a tight finish between Te'o, a senior, and Manziel. Most projections have had Manziel as the favorite since he sparked the upset of then-No.1-ranked Alabama Nov. 10. But Te'o, who has helped lead the Fighting Irish to a 12-0 record and a berth in the Jan. 7 Bowl Championship Series game, has been surging lately, according to polls.

USA Today said its final survey of a sampling of Heisman voters indicates, "a likely photo finish" between the two.

In the 77-year history of the Heisman, no purely defensive performer or freshman has the award.

Michigan's Charles Woodson, a defensive back-wide receiver, won the award in 1997. The highest finish by an exclusively defensive performer was second by Pittsburgh defensive end Hugh Green in 1980. South Carolina running back George Rodgers won the Heisman that year.

Te'o started off his postseason awards haul today with the announcement he is the winner of the 28th annual collegiate Butkus Award. The award will be presented Dec. 17 at Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.

Te'o was selected by a panel of 51 coaches, recruiters, scouts and journalists coordinated by Pro Football Weekly, the Butkus announcement said.

Te'o also won the high school Butkus Award as a senior at Punahou School. 

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kk808 wrote:
Congratulations Manti! Hope you win the Heisman also.
on December 3,2012 | 09:10AM
1local wrote:
Manti represents Hawaii and all its citizens - with character and charisma as well as talent and leadership.
on December 3,2012 | 12:12PM
allie wrote:
Congratulations. I do think the Butkus award, rather than the Heisman, makes the most sense though.
on December 3,2012 | 09:25AM
false wrote:
You remind me of the character from the old Hogan Hero's sitcom. You know nothing and see nothing.
on December 3,2012 | 09:40AM
allie wrote:
Alas, I see all too well.
on December 3,2012 | 10:03AM
WesleySMori wrote:
" Touche "ALLIE"!! "TOUCHE"!!!! "LOL"!!!! :-)> !!!!!!!! "GOD BLESS HAWAII & AMERICA"!!!!!!!!!!!
on December 3,2012 | 10:56AM
ya_think wrote:
No you really don't, because if you did you would see that the Heisman according to their own website "is to be awarded to an individual designated as the outstanding college football player in the United States" and that fits Manti not Johnny football.
on December 3,2012 | 11:21AM
allie wrote:
perhaps..but that is generally an offensive player
on December 3,2012 | 12:43PM
OB1NONO_ME wrote:
And there's the rub.
on December 3,2012 | 06:40PM
worldpeace wrote:
On behalf of the Punahou O Men, we congratulate you for winning this prestigious award, for your stellar performance in leading the Fighting Irish to an undefeated season and for re-awakening the echoes and shaking down the thunder. We are also very proud of your academic achievements and for your outstanding character and integrity. We will all be watching you on Saturday in New York. Good Luck!
on December 3,2012 | 09:26AM
kennie1933 wrote:
Good point! Whether or not he wins the Heisman, the most important thing about Te'o is that he is a good person. The skillful player part will still be there for the NFL draft and he will still go high. I"m sure there are lots of NFL teams already wanting him. But while NFL careers come and go, being a good person is for the rest of his life.
on December 3,2012 | 09:39AM
allie wrote:
agree,,,character counts!
on December 3,2012 | 10:04AM
kennie1933 wrote:
Odds seem to be against him, but you never know. Wouldn't it be great if he won it? Either way, it's going to be a Heisman first (purely defensive vs. freshman). Te'o is playing in the National Championship game!!! Manziel is....not.
on December 3,2012 | 09:27AM
islandsun wrote:
on December 3,2012 | 10:38AM
busterb wrote:
Give Johnny Football the ball and tell him to try and run past Manti. Simple test.
on December 3,2012 | 09:52AM
Dawg wrote:
Or better yet meet Manti on a dark alley!
on December 3,2012 | 10:14AM
fairgame947 wrote:
busterb's comment is most appropriate. What most people are saying here is he's not the type that would meet in a dark alley. I'm not a Notre Dame fan, but sure am a Manti Te`o fan. Manuia Laie boy!
on December 3,2012 | 02:09PM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
Nice one. hehe.
on December 3,2012 | 04:18PM
zhawaii wrote:
A freshman should not win the Heisman. And yes, I would say the same thing if Manti was not in the running.
on December 3,2012 | 10:50AM
lwandcah wrote:
Could someone please post what the actual criteria that voting is based on? From the tid-bits I have heard, I cannont believe it would even be close; Teo is the whole package, and has been his whole career.
on December 3,2012 | 11:03AM
ya_think wrote:
on December 3,2012 | 11:25AM
DaKoloaDuck wrote:
Wait, there's more to the criteria: Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work."
on December 3,2012 | 06:38PM
kennie1933 wrote:
Of course, you're correct, but it seems like voting is based on offensive statistics (TD passes/runs, pass/run yardage, etc.). To me though, and I've always felt this, positions such as RB and QB, especially QB, requires that the team has a great o-line that can open running holes and pass protect well. For QBs additionally, it requires good receivers and RBs to offset the passing game. On defense, you're out there on an island. When the ball carrier is coming near you, you either make that tackle or not. Yes, sometimes there will be teammates around you to help tackle, but when it's one-on-one, it's just YOU. Part of the reason Manziel is so enticing is that he actually does make some plays on his own when protection breaks down, and he does it in the SEC. I'd like to see Te'o win the Heisman, but he'll be successful at the next level win or lose.
on December 3,2012 | 11:31AM
DaKoloaDuck wrote:
Here's the criteria: The outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.
on December 3,2012 | 06:34PM
pakeheat wrote:
7 interceptions this year, incredible for a linebacker and over 100 tackles each year. If they claim Manziel should win it based on statistics (offensive) versus a (defensive) statistics, the offense always will have more, then just give the award to only offensive players that qualify for the award, and any defensive players should be excluded.
on December 3,2012 | 11:41AM
false wrote:
One of the best athletes coming from Hawaii.
on December 3,2012 | 11:49AM
allie wrote:
Jesse Soap was better as a pro
on December 3,2012 | 12:44PM
walaau808 wrote:
Why not be respectful enough to use his entire name...if you actually know it?
on December 3,2012 | 06:53PM
Publicbraddah wrote:
I have a feeling Manziel will win the Heisman simply because an offensive player has won more than not. However, the body of work for Manti has been over the 4 years he's performed at Notre Dame. Manziel has one season under his belt. I hope Manti wins it all.
on December 3,2012 | 12:25PM
allie wrote:
agree...see above
on December 3,2012 | 12:44PM
dlum003 wrote:
He's being massively overexposed, but not his fault.
on December 3,2012 | 01:29PM
Hiroaki23 wrote:
Thanks Manti, you, Robbie and Marcus have represented the 808 wonderfully this year. You deserve all the accolades. You have been a true model of toughness, integrity and humbleness for our young players to emulate.
on December 3,2012 | 01:37PM
pakeheat wrote:
Marcus who? I hope you didn't mean Kona, who is from Hawaii along with Robbie on the ND team.
on December 3,2012 | 02:59PM
kennie1933 wrote:
Marcus Mariota from Oregon
on December 3,2012 | 03:37PM
Hiroaki23 wrote:
meant Mariota
on December 3,2012 | 03:41PM
Descartes22 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on December 3,2012 | 01:53PM
kennie1933 wrote:
In Mariota's case. he actually was pulled from the second half in a lot lof games along with Kenyon Barner. If they played the entire game, they both might have been invited, too!
on December 3,2012 | 03:41PM
niimi wrote:
Let us be clear that for the most part--perhaps with a single exception--the Heisman Trophy is awarded to the nation's top skilled position player.
on December 3,2012 | 04:04PM
OB1NONO_ME wrote:
It takes skill to decipher what the other team knows - and react.
on December 3,2012 | 06:45PM
Anonymous wrote:
Has Manziel led Tesas A&M to an undefeated season?
on December 3,2012 | 04:31PM
bodai808 wrote:
Whether Manti wins the heisman or not, all that matters is that Manti is a great football player and even better person, the epitome of a role model.
on December 3,2012 | 04:52PM
princessleiya wrote:
What makes the Butkus award even more meaningful is that Manti was the first recipient of the Butkus Award for high school players. Now he has wonderful bookends for his awesome achievements. Congratulations, Manti....may HI'sman become the winner of the HEISMAN!
on December 3,2012 | 06:08PM
Tony96822 wrote:
A good and bad problem. How is he going to ship all those awards back to Hawaii? By the time all is said and done, he'll probably collect about 8 huge awards. And those things ain't lightweight Pop Warner trophies. Maybe let ND showcase them for 2-3 years then let them pay to ship it to Oahu. Maybe even let Punahou put them in their trophy case. The best trophy though will be a college championship and #1 team in the nation. Prove the skeptics wrong.
on December 3,2012 | 06:59PM
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