The announcement of finalists for the Heisman Trophy comes today amid growing anticipation of a tight finish between Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te‘o and Texas A & M freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel for the most prestigeous award in college athletics.
The finalists are scheduled to be revealed after 1 p.m. today on ESPN.
The awarding of the trophy will come during a nationally-televised program Saturday in New York.
Electronic balloting among 928 voters concluded earlier today. Most projections have had Manziel the leader since he sparked the upset of then- No.1-ranked Alabama Nov. 10th. But the Hawaii-born and bred 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.
USAToday said today its final survey of a sampling of Heisman voters indicates, “a likely photo finish between Texas A&M redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel and Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te’o.”
No freshman or exclusively defensive player has won the award in its 77 previous years.
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 Hiesman that year.