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Manziel holds off Te'o to win Heisman Trophy

By Ferd Lewis

LAST UPDATED: 6:20 p.m. HST, Dec 8, 2012

NEW YORK >> The Heisman Trophy remained exclusively an offensive player award as Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel out-pointed Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te‘o for the 78th annual award that symbolizes the most outstanding performer in the college game.

In a  beyond-remarkable season in which not much seemed to elude him, Te‘o, the Laie native, finished second in voting announced tonight at the Heisman Trophy presentation on ESPN.

"I definitely thought I could win and (the people who gave me) over 1,000 points thought the same thing," Te‘o said.

Manziel outpointed Te‘o, the Notre Dame linebacker, 2,029-1,706 to win the award emblematic of the most outstanding player in college football. Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein was third with 894. Manziel had 474 first-place votes to 321 for Te'o and 60 for Klein.

Manziel became the first freshman to win the award, denying Te‘o the opportunity to become the first exclusively defensive player to win.

"I came a long way," Te‘o said afterward. "That's something to look at; I came a long way. They said that is the most points a defensive player has ever gotten, I guess. But you know, congratulations to Johnny. He deserves it. He had a wonderful season. I'm just relieved. Now it is time to get ready for battle (in the Jan. 7 Bowl Championship Series title game) against Alabama."

Te‘o, a team captain and heart of the nation's top-ranked scoring defense, led the Fighting Irish to a 12-0 regular season, the No. 1 spot in the major polls and a berth in the Jan. 7 BCS title game. 

He won six major postseason awards this season, breaking the mark of five set by Charles Woodson of Michigan in 1997.

But Te‘o was thwarted in his bid to become the first pure defensive player to win the Heisman. Woodson won it in 1997, but in addition to starting at cornerback, he played wide receiver and returned kicks.

Manziel saluted Te‘o as "the heart and soul of their (Notre Dame's) defense and a big reason why they are 12-0."

Klein praised Te‘o's "passion and spirit" in playing the game.

Te'o was the first Hawaii native to be invited to New York as a Heisman finalist, and his second-place finish was the highest of anybody with Hawaii ties. UH's Colt Brennan finished third in 2007. 

"Obviously, I want to win. I didn't want to come here to get second (place). I want to win," Te‘o told reporters at a pre-Heisman get-together two hours before the presentation.

"I want to win because I want that honor and that attention not only for me and my family. I'm not just me, I represent a whole bunch of people. So for me to win this award it would bring a lot of honor and attention and love to the people that I represent and that's my only thing."

Te‘o said, "I'm a representative of that state (Hawaii) and I always will be. Everything I try to do I try to make them proud."

Te‘o said, "I was going to wear an i‘e, which is a Samoan skirt-like thing, that only Samoan men wear, but they (officials) asked me to just wear (a suit). We didn't think that would be appropriate for this event."

He was attired in a dark pin-stripe suit and wearing lei.

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