Te'o and Manziel hit Manhattan with Heisman hopes
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.
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 Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein — the other finalist who couldn't make it to town Friday — each has a chance to be a Heisman first.
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.
Manziel and Te'o were on the same flight from Orlando, Fla., where several college football awards were handed out last night.
The two hadn't had much time for sightseeing yet, but they did walk around Times Square some, saying hello to a few fans. They probably weren't too difficult to spot in their team-issued warm-up gear.
“We've just been talking about goofy stuff. Playing video games. Playing Galaga. Just some things from back in the day,” Manziel said. “Messing around with each other.”
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,” Te'o said.
Charles Woodson of Michigan in 1997 is the closest thing to a true defensive player winning the Heisman. Woodson was a dominant cornerback, but he also returned punts and played a little receiver. That helped burnish his Heisman credentials.
Te'o is all linebacker. He leads the top-ranked Fighting Irish with 103 tackles and seven interceptions.
Klein was the front-runner for the Heisman for a good chunk of the season, but he played his worst game late in the season — in a loss at Baylor — and the momentum Manziel gained by leading Texas A&M to victory at Alabama has been tough to stop.
A freshman has never won the Heisman. Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson came closest in 2004, finishing second behind USC's Matt Leinart.
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.
“With what me and my teammates have gone through, it's just a testament to how good they are and how good they've been this year,” he said. “Without them I wouldn't be here, and that's the real story to all this.”