Johnny Football or Te’o?
Most people were not shocked when Texas A&M freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel’s name was announced in New York City as the winner of the 2012 Heisman trophy.
But if you asked folks a month ago, people might have thrown around names like Collin Klein, the dual-threat quarterback from Kansas State or maybe Kenjon Barner, the talented running back from Oregon.
Oh, how things change in a hurry.
Manziel, or Johnny Football as many like to call him, propelled himself into the Heisman conversation after he led his team to a 29-24 upset of then No. 1 ranked Alabama Nov. 10 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Klein lost a lot of steam when his Wildcats got thumped by Baylor Nov. 17, though he still received the Heisman invite to New York City and took third in the voting.
Manziel recorded 4,600 yards of total offense this season, a Southeastern Conference (SEC) record.
That’s right. Not even Cam Newton or Tim Tebow could accomplish that feat in their college days, and both of them brought home Heisman hardware too.
He also threw or ran for 43 touchdowns.
But how does a 20-year-old quarterback shred SEC defenses for abundant yards and touchdowns? Well, I have no idea.
The SEC is regarded by most as the cream of the crop when it comes to defenses, but when Johnny Football steps on the field, defenses are tested and as the season progressed, I would say most defenses failed.
The other Heisman candidate in New York City Saturday night was Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te’o.
If there was ever a year a defensive player had a great shot at winning the Heisman, it was this season.
Te’o finished second in the voting and received the most points ever by a defensive player.
It’s easy to give the award to Manziel. He’s a quarterback. He has more stats to win voters over than a linebacker.
His running and trowing abilities are more graceful and more appealing to the eye than a linebacker clogging up running lanes and devouring running backs.
Te’o did have some impressive numbers of his own though.
He recorded 103 tackles and seven interceptions. He also led his team to a perfect 12-0 season and a berth in the BCS National Championship.
He’s made countless big plays during tough times this season to preserve Notre Dame’s flawless record.
Against then No. 10 Michigan State, Te’o recorded 12 tackles just days after his girlfriend and grandmother passed away to help his team to victory.
Te’o picked off two Michigan Wolverine passes in Notre Dame’s 13-6 win earlier in the season.
He also brings things to the table that don’t fill the stat sheet every Saturday.
Te’o is the heart and soul of Notre Dame’s defense and leads by example.
Both Manziel and Te’o were deserving Heisman candidates. The safe bet was probably Manziel, but Te’o could have easily been hoisting the Heisman Saturday night if voters ventured off the offensive bandwagon.
Will a defensive player ever win a Heisman, or will they just keep inviting them to the Big Apple so they can clap for quarterbacks as they walk up the steps and on to the stage that few have walked before?