LAKE BUENA VISTA (CBSMiami/AP) – The Heisman Trophy race is coming down to the wire as linebacker Manti Te’o, quarterback Johnny Manziel, and quarterback Collin Klein are all finalists, but if Thursday’s college football awards were an indication, Te’o may be getting ready to strike the Heisman pose.
The senior linebacker was “at a loss for words” after capturing the Maxwell Award as the nation’s most outstanding player, one of three honors he received at the 22nd Home Depot College Football Awards show Thursday night at Disney World.
“The last time I ever dreamt of winning that award was on a video game,” he said. “So to win it is a mind-blowing experience.”
Te’o now has won six major awards since the end of Notre Dame’s regular season, also taking home the Bednarik Award for top defensive player and Walter Camp Foundation player of the year award on Thursday. He became the first defensive player to win the Maxwell Award since 1980, ending a string of nine straight quarterbacks.
No primarily defensive player has ever won the Heisman.
While Te’o and Notre Dame certainly had a big night, so did Texas A&M. Manziel won the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award and junior offensive lineman Luke Joeckel took home the Outland Trophy for the nation’s best interior lineman.
Other players honored Thursday were Southern California’s Marqise Lee (Biletnikoff Award for top receiver), Tulane’s Cairo Santos (Lou Groza Award for top kicker), Louisiana Tech’s Ryan Allen (Ray Guy Award for top punter), Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks (Jim Thorpe Award for top defensive back), and Wisconsin’s Montee Ball (Doak Walker Award for top running back).
Manziel acknowledged he will be nervous Saturday knowing he has a chance to win college football’s most hallowed individual honor. Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein is the third finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
Three sophomores have won the Heisman, including Tim Tebow in 2007, Sam Bradford in 2008 and Mark Ingram in 2009. The best a first-year player has ever done is second.
“I had high expectations, but I never would have expected this for myself,” said Manziel, a redshirt freshman. “I’ll be with two of the best players in the country, all eyes are on you. It’s the biggest award in college football. I think you’re gonna have a few butterflies.”
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)