Despite the media’s recent hysterical infatuation with Johnny Manziel and the glut of articles proclaiming the award already his by rabid Manzealots, the Heisman Trophy should go to Manti Te’o. When you really consider everything, there shouldn’t be much discussion on this. yet there is for some reason. Still a majority of people are clamoring for Manziel (I absolutely refuse to use his incredibly annoying nickname). You’d think that there weren’t any others eligible for the award, but shockingly there are, but none measure up to what Te’o has done. Getting blown out by Baylor blew up Optimus Klein’s chances, the Trojans’ disappointing season takes Marqise Lee out, Braxton Miller just doesn’t have the numbers of Manziel, Kenjon Barner is a West Coast player not from USC, and Geno Smith fell off the face of the Earth.

So why does Te’o deserve the Heisman over Manziel? First, let’s consider that the award goes to the the most outstanding player, not the best. While this might seem like a small distinction, outstanding implies a better quality then best. Te’o certainly fits that description. He is the heart and soul of the Fighting Irish, the unquestioned leader of their defense and a man of integrity in a college football landscape full of moral decay. Manziel supporters will point to his gaudy numbers and becoming the SEC’s single-season total-yardage record holder. while they are certainly impressive, Te’o had his third straight 100+ tackle season and his 7 INTs tied for 2nd in the country. However, being the most outstanding player is about more then just numbers.

Notre Dame’s offense struggled at times during the season, so it was left to Te’o and the defense to pick up the slack. In last weekend’s win over USC Te’o only had 5 tackles, but no matter what the Trojan offense threw at ND, he was there to counter it, especially during the goal line stand in the 4th quarter. While Manziel looked merely mortal against Florida and fell further down to earth against LSU, Te’o never had a bad game all season. When he wasn’t racking up the tackles, he was grabbing interceptions. Playing Michigan State he shut down Le’Veon Bell, seemed to pick off Denard at will against Michigan and when he wasn’t blitzing Landry Jones into oblivion, he was a brick wall up front against Oklahoma. It was the win over the Sooners that really vaulted him into Heisman contention and where the country began to take the Irish seriously. The bottom line is that Te’o proved 12 times that he is the best player in the country.

Don’t even start complaining that it’s an unwritten rule inside linebackers can’t win the Heisman. Given the QB dominance of the award year after year, the fact that Te’o as a defensive player, let alone a linebacker, is even being considered as a realistic candidate tells you all you need to know. To break the QB/RB hegemony, a defensive player has to perform at an absurdly higher level then everyone else to even enter into the discussion. Te’o has surpassed that and more. While Manziel is an integral part of his team, if you were to take Te’o away, the ND defense might not have played to the level it did. Not only did Manti produce on the field and be a leader, but his integrity and fortitude showed in every play, most especially against Michigan State after he had just lost his girlfriend and grandmother. All this means on Dec 8th, the Heisman trophy should be awarded to Manti Te’o, linebacker of Notre Dame.