College football

Te'o and Manziel hit Manhattan with Heisman hopes

2012-12-07T20:45:00Z 2012-12-17T21:16:46Z Te'o and Manziel hit Manhattan with Heisman hopesTimes Staff nwitimes.com
December 07, 2012 8:45 pm  • 

NEW YORK | Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o was looking forward to a break after a five-city-in-five-days tour, during which he has become the most decorated player in college football.

"I'm just trying to get a workout in and get some sleep," he said Friday about his plans for the night.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel seemed to have more energy when he arrived at a midtown Manhattan hotel with his fellow Heisman Trophy finalist. In fairness, Johnny Football's week hasn't been nearly as hectic, though this trip to New York city is different from the first time he visited with his family when he was young.

"It's just taking it up a whole 'nother level, but happy to be here," he said.

Manziel and Te'o spent about 30 minutes getting grilled by dozens of reporters in a cramped conference room, posed for some pictures with the big bronze statue that they are hoping to win and were quickly whisked away for more interviews and photo opportunities.

Manziel, Te'o or Collin Klein, the other finalists who couldn't make it to town Friday, each has a chance to be a Heisman first Saturday night.

Manziel is trying to be the first freshman to win the award. Te'o would be the first winner to play only defense. Klein would be Kansas State's first Heisman winner.

The overall Heisman electorate includes 870 media members, 57 former Heisman winners and one overall online fan vote.

Times columnist Al Hamnik has one of those votes. He chose Te'o as the man to win.

Hamnik's Heisman ballot had Te'o first, Manziel second, and Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch — a Mount Carmel grad — in third place.

Te'o is already going to need a huge trophy case to house his haul from this week. He has won six major awards, including the Maxwell as national player of the year. He'll try to become Notre Dame's eighth Heisman winner and first since Tim Brown in 1987.

"I can only imagine how I would feel if I win the Heisman," he said.

It's a close race; the Times participated in a national survey of Heisman voters that turned in different results. In that poll, conducted by the Houston Chronicle and Associated Press Sports Editors, 69 voters from 21 states gave Manziel a slight edge.

Manziel received 38 first-place votes, while Te'o took 30 first-place votes, and Southern California receiver Marqise Lee received one first-place vote.

The Chronicle survey of 69 voters represents 7 percent of the 928 overall voters.

Manziel is a redshirt freshman, meaning he attended Texas A&M and practiced with the team but did not play last year. Still, he'd be the most inexperienced college player to win the sport's most prestigious award.

"It's surreal for me to sit here and think about that this early in my career," he said. "With what me and my teammates have gone through, with how they've played and how they've helped me to get to this point, it's just a testament to how good they are and how good they've been this year.

"Without them I wouldn't be here and that's the real story to all this."

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