Notre Dame Football: Manti Te'o Deserves to Win Heisman

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IDecember 5, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24:  Linebacker Manti Te'o #5 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates his teams 22-13 victory over the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

It's a sham that a pure defensive player has never won the Heisman—something that needs to come to an end this year. 

It makes no sense that one side of the ball can completely be ignored for this prestigious award. Sure, Charles Woodson won it as a cornerback, but he returned kicks and even played offense. 

This award has been handed out 77 times. It would be absurd to think that of all those 77, not one defense-only player was the actual rightful winner. 

Notre Dame's Manti Te'o is the embodiment of what this award stands for, and he needs to change this absurd reality of who can get this award.  

ESPN's Matt Fortuna recently came to a similar conclusion, and he posted the Heisman Trust Mission Statement. Here is the opening:

The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance and hard work.

How can you argue for anyone other than Te'o given those guidelines. Let's start with his play on the field. 

He tallied 103 tackles, an impressive seven interceptions (which is third highest in the nation and nearly unheard of for a linebacker), two fumble recoveries, seven tackles for a loss, four passes broken up and four quarterback hurries.

And he's done all of this while being the face and the heart of the top-ranked scoring defense in the nation.

He also has an uncanny knack for coming up with big plays in big moments, and he essentially sealed the win over Oklahoma with an interception. 

These are the rare qualities of a pure leader, but that is not where the case for Te'o stops. 

There is also the little blurb about perseverance. Te'o has shown this in spades. This is a young man that was left to deal with the loss of his grandmother and girlfriend a day apart.

He handled this with class and poise that can serve as an inspiration to anyone, and he continued to pour his heart and soul into football.

Te'o has been consistently excellent. He has led his team to a place it hasn't been in ages, and all the while, he has displayed unmatched levels of "diligence, perseverance and hard work." 

He should be rewarded for this with the Heisman trophy.