COLUMNS

A Heisman first

Kyle Riviere
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere

Regardless of who wins the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, whether its Texas A&M's duel-threat quarterback Johnny Manziel or Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, it will be a Heisman first.

If Maziel wins, he will become the first ever freshman to take home the trophy and if Te'o wins, he will be the first ever solely defensive player to win the award. Charles Woodson won in 1997 as a cornerback, but he also played a little receiver and returned punts.

Personally, I think Manziel should finally break down that imaginary anti-freshman barrier and win it.

The Heisman is supposed to go to the most outstanding player in the country, and he's been that this year. He has taken the nation and the toughest conference in college football by storm.

Twice this year, he has broken the SEC record for most yards of total offense in a game. And in his final performance against Missouri, he broke Heisman winner Cam Newton's record for most total yards in a season with 4,600.

Considering the hostile environment and the defense he was facing, he dished out the best quarterbacking performance I've seen all year in the Aggies' big upset win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Manziel went 24-31 for 253 yards with two touchdowns and added 92 yards on the ground. Most importantly, he made brilliant, clutch throws late that helped Texas A&M get the win.

He has jump-started and made relevant an Aggie team that would have probably struggled to win seven games this year without him. They're currently 10-2, averaging 45 points a game and headed to the Cotton Bowl.

I realize he has lost two games, but there is no rule that says you have to go undefeated to win the Heisman. Remember, Robert Griffin III and Tim Tebow both lost three games in their Heisman Trophy seasons.

However, as much as I think Maziel should win, don't be a bit surprised if Te'o takes home the hardware.

He is the best player on the best statistical defense on the undefeated, top-ranked team in the nation. And that team just so happens to be Notre Dame--a school enriched in so much tradition and majesty that it will always be college football's flagship program whether they're 12-0 or 0-12.

And, of course, there are a ton of older voters that will vote for a punter as the Heisman winner before giving the nod to a freshman. Adrian Peterson, Michael Vick and Herschel Walker all fell victim to that stubborn logic years ago.

But to tell you the truth, I wouldn't be outraged if that scenario played out, and they did give it to Te'o.

It would be good to see a guy that plays solely on defense win it for once, and you surely couldn't argue with him doing it. He has seven interceptions this year. That's a spectacular year for a cornerback, let alone a linebacker. And those picks always seem to come at key moments.

Without a doubt, Te'o has been the driving force of an Irish defensive unit that has dominated this year. Without their stingy play, Notre Dame probably loses four or five games.

We'll just have to see what happens Saturday night. Either way, it will be exciting to see something happen that we've never seen before in the history of the trophy.