Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hawaii’s Manti Teo Sets All Kinds of Records

09 Dec 2012 - 9:38 am

Senior Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o finished second in the running for the 78th annual Heisman trophy on Saturday.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel took home the award, making him the first freshman to ever win the trophy.

In his second place finish, Te’o made plenty of history. He is the first Hawai’i-born athlete to be a finalist for the award, as well as the highest finishing solely defensive player in Heisman history.

The La’ie native still holds the record for college football postseason awards with six, one more than Charles Woodson’s previous record of five.

The Punahou graduate finished his regular season with 103 tackles and seven interceptions, which marks a school linebacker record. His 10 total turnovers created ties him for first in the nation.

Manti is the leader of the undefeated Fighting Irish, who’s suffocating defense is first in the nation in points allowed.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie released the following statement to express Hawaii’s pride in Te’o:

“I called Manti’s father, Brian, and asked him to pass on congratulations from the people of Hawaii to Manti and his mother. Building on six national accolades earned earlier this week, Manti also earned the most points ever by a purely defensive player in Heisman history,” Abercromie said. “Manti represents not only his strong family values but Hawaii values as well. He represents a standard for others to achieve. We are all very proud of his accomplishments.”

Top-Ranked Notre Dame will take on Alabama in the BCS National Championship on Jan. 7 in Miami, Fla.

Manti Te’o has become a household name. On Saturday, hundreds cheered him on as the first Heisman finalist to represent Hawaii.

A parade of cars started at Kualoa Beach Park, making their way up to Manti Teo’s hometown.

Fans cheered along the route and gathered at Laie Community Park.

“You’re standing on hallowed grounds. This place that you’re standing at, this is where the stars and athletes are made from,” Hawaii Sports Hall of Famer Junior Ah You said.

From keiki to kupuna, hundreds came out, brought their favorite dish, and showed their support.

“It’s definitely a humbling experience to see everyone show up just to support our brother and all that he’s done,” Brieanne Te’o said, Manti’s sister.

Everyone eagerly awaited the announcement of the Heisman trophy winner.

“He has a very Cinderella story. We’ve all heard about his girlfriend and his grandmother passing away the same day,” Ah You said. “He’s a great leader, great kid, perfect candidate for this kind of award.”

And although the announcement was not the outcome everyone was hoping for, it didn’t take away from his many accomplishments throughout his football career, and the excitement supporters have for what lies ahead for this rising star.

“He’s not just a defensive player, he’s the defensive player,” Ah You said.

And his success may be measured best by his leadership, determination, and humility on and off the field.

“Our players look up to him. He’s been an inspiration to everyone here, not just to our players, but the whole state,” Kahuku High School head football coach Reggie Torres said.

“He’s a very humble humble kid, we couldn’t have picked a better representative for the state of Hawaii, for the South Pacific than Manti Te’o,” Ah You said.

“We’re just so proud of him. All I’m thinking about is whether he’ll be home for Christmas,” Brieanne Te’o said.

Te’o has one more game left in college career — the national championship against Alabama.

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