Is Manti a Heisman candidate? Brian Kelly thinks so

Is Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o a Heisman Trophy candidate the way he's played so far this season, leading the Irish to a 4-0 start and a #9 ranking heading into Saturday's showdown with Miami at Soldier Field in Chicago?

Irish coach Brian Kelly certainly thinks so depending on your definition of who can win the Heisman.

"If you go with [the definition] he has to be a quarterback or an offensive player, I don't think he plays on offense," Kelly explained Tuesday. "If you go with one of the best if not the best college football players that impacts his your program...."

"Heisman Trophy, MVP, top collegiate player--we think he fits those categories."

The beloved Chuck Freeby asked Kelly if the award should be re-named the MantHeisman if Te'o wins.

"I think we've already done that with our promotional campaign," Kelly said, joking that the Irish have spent $3.5 million on a MantHeisman campaign.

Manti has unquestionably be Notre Dame's MVP this season. His play has been outstanding. He's gone through personal tragedy with the well documented passing of both his grandmother and girlfriend both in the same week last month.

Te'o returned to Hawaii to be with his family. Teammate and close friend Robby Toma went with Manti to lend support. Kelly feels Manti was able to get some "closure" by being with his loved ones.

Pregame coverage of Notre Dame and Miami begins with NewsCenter 16 at 6 on Saturday followed by "Countdown to Kickoff" at 6:30, both LIVE from Soldier Field. It leads up to the Irish and Canes at 7:30, all on Channel 16.

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