After Heisman ‘burn,’ Notre Dame’s Te’o focused on Alabama
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org December 9, 2012 7:08PM
FILE - In this Nov. 10, 2012 file photo, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o waits for the snap during the second half of Notre Dame's 21-6 win over Boston College in an NCAA college football game in Boston. Te'o is a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, which will be awarded Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, in New York. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson, File)
Updated: December 9, 2012 8:31PM
NEW YORK — About a half-hour after Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was named the winner of the 78th Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o no longer looked or sounded like the man at the end of a week of unceasing travel, photo ops and media obligations.
He was happy, relieved and more than a little fired up.
‘‘I just felt that burn,’’ Te’o said when he was asked what it felt like to hear someone else’s name called. ‘‘I can’t
really describe it. I just felt that burn: ‘Hey, gotta get better.’ ’’
Te’o called it ‘‘motivation’’ for the 30 days that lay ahead, as No. 1 Notre Dame prepares to face No. 2 Alabama in the BCS championship game Jan. 7 in Miami. That’s something on which Te’o finally can focus.
‘‘It’s motivation,’’ Te’o said. ‘‘I always wanted to be the best. I just use that as moti-
vation to be the best I can be. Obviously, I have a lot of work to do. I’m just excited to get back and get things cracking. . . . Go back home, see all my brothers, get back into the groove of things. Get the pads back on, smack around some guys, study a lot of film. That’s what I love about all this time: I have weeks and weeks to study film. Usually, I’ll have about three days to study film, but now I’ve got three weeks to study film.’’
Some of Te’o’s teammates, including nose guard Louis Nix III and receiver Da-
Varis Daniels, took to Twitter to express their displeasure with the results. It was motivation for them, too.
‘‘That’s family, man,’’ Te’o said. ‘‘That’s what families are all about. And that’s what our team is all about. . . . They all just blew up my phone just now.’’
Te’o took some solace in the fact he earned more points — 1,706, including 321 first-place votes — than any strictly defensive player ever had. And while Irish coach Brian Kelly had said that if Te’o didn’t win the Heisman, it should be recalibrated as an offensive award, Te’o disagreed that a defensive player never could win the award, pointing to the sheer volume of votes for him.
More than anything, though, Te’o was eager to get off the awards circuit and get back to the grind.
‘‘I did the best I could do, and I’m happy with that,’’ Te’o said. ‘‘I wish I could have come in first, obviously, but it gives me motivation and gives me fire to come back and get better. Obviously, what I did wasn’t good enough. And I felt I could do better, and that’s exactly what’s going to happen.’’
NOTE: Multiple reports said Greg Bryant, a running back out of Delray Beach, Fla., committed to Notre Dame during his official visit to South Bend over the weekend. Bryant, a 5-10, 200-pounder, is ranked as the No. 2 running-back recruit in the country by Rivals and ESPN.