Te'o Tour: Manti's journey to Manhattan for Heisman

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.

“It’s just taking it up a whole ‘nother level, but happy to be here,” he said.

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 Collin Klein, the other finalists who couldn’t make it to town Friday, each has a chance to be a Heisman first Saturday night.

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 6-foot-1, 200-pound quarterback was just happy the 255-pound linebacker didn’t try to record another sack when they met.

“He’s a big guy,” Manziel said, flashing a big smile from under his white Texas A&M baseball cap. “I thought he might stuff me in locker and beat me up a little bit.”

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.

It's been a wild tour for Teo.

When Notre Dame beat USC to book their ticket to the national title game. There was one man missing from all the Hoopla.

"I just want to celebrate with my team," Manti Te'o yelled as he was surrounded by ESPN and other media outlets. Te'o was locked down in interviews while everyone else celebrated.

"Definitely overwhelming," Te'o said last week of all the media attention he's getting. "It gets overwhelming at times. I understand it comes with the territory."

And that's before The Te'o Tour began. '

"He's burnt out," Brian Kelly admitted Sunday. "There's no question he's on fumes right now. He also respects where he is in this process. To be mentioned for the kind of awards he's in, he's finding the energy to be engaged in all these things."

Monday he went to Charlotte, winning the Bronco Nagurski Award as the nation's top defensive player.

Then he was off to New York City for the National Football Foundation Dinner on Tuesday. That's where he lost out on the Academic Heisman--the Campbell Trophy--to Alabama center Barrett Jones.

Wednesday---it was down to Houston to add the Lombardi Trophy to his collection. Manti got his revenge on Jones by winning this one.

"It's just a big blessing for me to be here to win a trophy that not only has a lot of prowess to it but it also stands for something special," Te'o said of the Lombardi Trophy.

Thursday--he flew to Orlando--in what can now become known as the Te'o Trifecta. Manti won three more awards, giving him a college football all-time best six. The final award--The Maxwell--was for the Nation's best player and he beat out his two Heisman counterparts, Manziel and Klein.

"I'm at a loss for words," Te'o said on the ESPN broadcast of the Home Depot Awards. "The last time I ever dreamt of winning that award was on a video game. For that to really happen is mind blowing for me."

After all that, he's back to New York City for two days Friday and Saturday for the most prestigious award in all of college football---the Heisman Trophy.

"if we weren't 12-0, I wouldn't be a Heisman candidate," Te'o explains. "Without my team and their help, I wouldn't be in New York. Definitely if I were to win and represent my school, my family and defensive players in general, definitely would be a great step for all of us."

Manti will look to break another barrier--Charles Woodson is the only defensive player to ever win the Heisman.

"if a guy like Manti Te'o isn't going to win the Heisman, they should just make it an offensive award and just give it to an offensive player every year and let's cut to the chase," Kelly said after the USC game. "He is the backbone of a 12-0 football that has proven itself every week. If the Heisman Trophy is what it is--I don't know Manti Te'o is left out of that conversation."

A win would make Te'o the 8th Heisman Trophy winner in Notre Dame history and the first since 1987.

The Te'o Tour concludes with a trip to Newport Beach, California for the Lott Award on Sunday. Then it's a red eye back to South Bend, where finals begin on Monday. What a week.


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