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Te’o wins Butkus, Nagurski awards

Observer Staff Report | Monday, December 3, 2012

Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te’o officially became a finalist for the prestigious Heisman Trophy on Monday night in an announcement made on SportsCenter by former Heisman winner Ty Detmer.

Te’o will join the other two finalists, freshman Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and senior Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, at New York’s Best Buy Theater on Saturday night for the announcement of the Heisman winner.

Te’o is Notre Dame’s first Heisman finalist since 2006, when quarterback Brady Quinn finished third behind Ohio State’s Troy Smith and Arkansas’ Darren McFadden. The senior linebacker, one of the four Irish captains, led the No.1 scoring defense in the nation and guided Notre Dame to a 12-0 regular season. Te’o finished the regular season with seven interceptions – the second-most in the nation – and 101 tackles. It was Te’o’s third-straight season with 100 tackles.

Notre Dame’s last Heisman Trophy win came in 1987 when wide receiver Tim Brown took home the award. The Irish boast seven Heisman winners throughout the years, a record tied with Ohio State for most all-time. Te’o would be the first exclusively defensive player to win the award in its history, dating back to 1935. Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson won the award in 1997 but also returned punts and contributed offensively at wide receiver.

Te’o claimed two other awards Monday, winning both the Dick Butkus Award ­- bestowed upon the nation’s best linebacker – and the Bronko Nagurski Award, which honors college football’s best defensive player.

The Heisman Trust will announce the 2012 Heisman Trophy on Saturday night at 8 p.m.