In the battle for the most overhyped and under-explained award, the Heisman Trophy, Notre Dame's Manti Te'o looks to be closing in on at least an invitation to New York City. As an interior linebacker, just that invite should be a victory. Not just for Te'o, or Notre Dame fans, but for those of us who recognize that other people play football, and are good at it, outside of quarterbacks and running backs.
If you have not been paying attention, here at Your Best 11 we have been thumping the Te'o Heisman drum for quite some time. A really long time actually. While players like Geno Smith, Matt Barkley, De'Anthony Thomas and Collin Klein rose and fell throughout the season, Te'o remained steady Eddie in the spotlight.
He made plays in coverage that linebackers are not supposed to make. He made plays at and behind the line of scrimmage that his team needed. Most importantly, he was always there when his team needed him—not exactly the case with the other players who have disappeared from contention one by one.
Will it be a small victory if Manti Te'o gets at least an invitation to the Heisman ceremony?
Even as he's been a consistent force, Te'o has never actually been thought of as a Heisman favorite. Now, the latest offensive flavor of the week, Texas A&M Johnny Manziel, looks to be who the offensive-minded voters are looking towards.
Guys like Barkley, Smith and Klein fall, the pundits just hunt for another offensive guy to throw up there as the next man up. So it should come as no surprise that Te'o might not win the hardware over one of his offensive counterparts.
However, that's OK, folks. In our current climate, where defense is seen as optional and offense is seeing grossly inflated statistics, just getting defenders to New York consistently is a small victory. Last year it was Tyrann Mathieu. In 2009 it was Ndamukong Suh. In 2012 it will be Manti Te'o. At least that's what all the signs point towards.
Hopefully, as defenders' presence at the Heisman ceremony becomes a more regular occurrence, folks will remember that defensive guys play football too. If Te'o heading to New York can help remind people of that, then it certainly is a victory for us all.