University of Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te’o was named one of five finalists today for the 2012 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, given to the best defensive player in college football by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club. Te’o joins cornerback Shane Walton (2002) as the only two Irish players in school history to be named finalists for the award.
Te’o leads the Irish with 92 tackles and is on pace to become the second Notre Dame player to ever record at least 100 tackles in three different seasons (Bob Crable, 1979-81). He is the third player in Irish history to record 400 career tackles and currently ranks third in school history with 416 stops.
Te’o has recorded six interceptions in 2012, which is tied for second in the Football Bowl Subdivision in total interceptions. He has set a Notre Dame single-season record for most interceptions by a linebacker. In fact, only one FBS linebacker in the past 11 seasons has collected more single-season interceptions than Te’o. He has generated eight total turnovers (six interceptions and two fumble recoveries), which is tied for the second-most by any FBS player. Te’o has actually played a role in 10 of the 20 turnovers forced by Notre Dame's defense in ’12. In addition to the six interceptions and two fumble recoveries, he has hurried two quarterbacks on plays that directly resulted in interceptions.
Te’o has started 46 career games at Notre Dame, including each of the last 45 contests. That is the longest streak of any linebacker in the nation and fourth longest of any defensive player in the country.
Notre Dame (10-0) enters this weekend’s matchup with Wake Forest ranked No. 3 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls. The Irish also rank third in the latest Bowl Championship Series standings.
Te’o joins South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones, Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner and Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner as finalists for the award.
The winner will be announced on Dec. 3 and presented the Bronko Nagurski Trophy at a gala banquet at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte, N.C., where Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly will give the keynote address. NFL Network willtelevise the event.
In addition, the FWAA and Charlotte Touchdown Club will celebrate the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, presented by Florida East Coast Railway. Nebraska's Larry Jacobson, a member of the 1971 FWAA All-America Team and the Outland Trophy winner that season, is the recipient this year.
The FWAA's National Defensive Player of the Year Award is named after Bronko Nagurski, who dominated college football at Minnesota as a bruising fullback and defensive tackle from 1927-29. He could have been an All-American at any position and was the best player wherever the coaches put him. The FWAA has presented a National Defensive Player of the Year Award since 1993 and in the name of Nagurski since 1995.