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NCAA Football Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Top 5 Reasons Why Manti Te’o Should Win the 2012 Heisman Trophy

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5 Reasons Why Manti Te'o Should Win The Heisman

Teo
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2012 Heisman nominees announced on Monday, there are many reasons why any of the three would be a great selection for this year’s award. And in case you missed it, the final nominees are: Kansas State Wildcats quarterback Collin Klein, Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel and Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te’o.

Te’o, who the case is being made for here, found out he had won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy right before his Heisman nomination was announced on Monday. The Nagurksi is given out to the best defensive player in the country. He not only won the Nagurski, but he also won the Butkus award, which is given out to the best linebacker.

The senior was asked what would be better a National Championship or the Nagurski—don’t know why that was even asked—but his response was this: "Hey, all these awards are great, but football is a team sport. If you ask people who the Butkus Award or the Bednarik Award winners are, or even the Heisman Trophy winner some years, they probably don't remember them. But they remember who won the national championship. They remember that. That's the trophy everybody wants."

He may be a team player, but adding the Heisman trophy to the Nagurski, Butkus and a possible championship ring to his accomplishments is something not many individuals can say they've done.

Despite what happens Saturday night in New York City, Te’o has had a fantastic year. I can’t imagine it would be one he forgets anytime soon. Except, maybe in April when he has the NFL calling.

So why should Te’o win the Heisman?

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Adversity

Pitt
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The way someone handles a situation says a lot about that person. Te’o had an extremely rough September. It was September 11th, to be exact. He lost his grandmother and his girlfriend, within hours of one another.

His girlfriend, who attended Stanford, lost her battle with Leukemia and the funeral was scheduled the same day as the Irish’s game against the Michigan Wolverines. He said he made a promise to her that if anything happened; he would stay and play in the game. He did just that and had two picks.

He was dealing with the loss of two very important people in his life, was on the cover of Sports Illustrated and trying to just be a college student. He dealt with it, took all his emotion and it transformed on the field.

Being able to play through life-obstacles like that and the way he handled it, shows major maturity. Unfortunately, being able to play through tragedy doesn't win you the Heisman, but it does prove that even under extreme circumstances, that Te’o can and did get it done.

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Leadership And Defense SHOULD Matter

BC
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

It is indisputable that Te’o is a leader. He is also the leader of the No. 1 undefeated team in the country that is about to play for a national title.

He finished the season second in the nation on interceptions and recorded 101 tackles. Many argue that Johnny Football has accomplished so much more and yes, he numbers are very impressive. But when you look at the FBS offenses as a whole, there were a lot of great numbers being put up.

Defense was optional in a lot of places and Te’o and the Irish defense was consistent. They struggled at times, but they still got the job done The last time a defensive player won the Heisman was in 1997 with Charles Woodson. And it may be a long time before we see it done again if Te'o doesn't take it home.

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Big Games, Big Results

Southern Cal
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Te'o stepped up when it counted, especially in the biggest games of the season for the Irish. Te'o had six interceptions in three of their biggest games of the year: Michigan, USC and Oklahoma. Against four ranked opponents, he had 42 tackles, 3 interceptions and a sack.

Defense used to win championships and is now a thing of the past, but Te'o and the Irish defense are the main reason the Irish went undefeated and are going to Miami in January. You can't discount that he produced in the biggest games against the best teams the Irish played in this year.

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Off The Field Impressive As Well As On

Oklahoma
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

I mentioned that Te'o has been through a lot this season, not only on the field but off. But despite everything he has had going on, like grieving, going undefeated and locking down the best defensive player in college football awards, Te'o gives back.

Te'o took the time out to send an email to the parents of a girl battling terminal brain cancer. While he was going through his own pain, he reached out to two people he had never met and tried to ease theirs.

He makes good grades, plays defense at a high level, on an undefeated team, playing for the National title and is probably one of the reasons why they are there. That to me is quite impressive. And that's what the Heisman is all about, impressiveness.

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The Odds?

Michigan
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately for Te’o I think it’s a long shot. His accomplishments are nothing to scoff at, though. And for someone who has seen two of the candidates play in person this season, I have to say, I was completely impressed with Te’o on the field. His presence is felt, even from the stands. He is electric to watch. Even when he is slamming your team’s running back on the ground.

Looking at his body of work for the 2012 season, on and off the field, it would be hard not to hand it to him. But the trophy always seems to take the offensive side over the defensive.

We may not have a chance for another Cinderella season like this from a player for a long time: undefeated, awards abound and a kid that is just as great off the field as he is on, it would be nice to give him the ultimate award acknowledging that.