Manziel, Te’o, Klein Named Heisman Finalists
History could be in the making this weekend, with a defensive player and a freshman highlight among this year’s finalists for the Heisman Trophy. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein were announced as candidates for football’s most prestigious trophy, which will be awarded Saturday night.
Manziel comes in as a heavy favorite after guiding Texas A&M to a 10-2 record—including an upset of then-#1 Alabama—in the Aggies’ first year in the SEC. “Johnny Football” is second in the nation in total offense with an SEC-record 4,600 yards and 43 touchdowns. Manziel would be the first freshman to win the award. (Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson finished second in 2004, the only first-year player ever to finish in the top two.) He would also be Texas A&M’s second Heisman winner, behind John David Crow who took home the trophy in 1957.
Manti Te’o is the unquestioned leader of a Notre Dame unit that leads the nation in scoring defense. He leads the Fighting Irish in tackles (103) and, despite being a linebacker, is second in the nation in interceptions. Te’o would be Notre Dame’s seventh Heisman winner, but first since 1987. He would also be the first full-time defensive player to win the award. (Michigan cornerback Desmond Howard won the Heisman in 1997, but played on both sides of the ball and was largely known for his electrifying special-teams play.) Te’o has already won the Butkus Award, which goes to the nation’s top linebacker.
Collin Klein was the Heisman front-runner much of the season, but his candidacy cooled a bit when Manziel made a late push and Klein struggled in the Wildcats’ loss to Baylor. Klein rushed for 22 touchdowns and threw for 15 more while leading Kansas State to its third conference title in school history. He has already been awarded the Johnny Unitas Award, which goes to the nation’s top upperclassman quarterback. Klein would be the Wildcats’ first-ever Heisman winner.