College Football Awards Recap
From Notre Dame's unbeaten regular season to college football's biggest awards, Manti Te'o just keeps winning.
Now the linebacker needs two more victories to cap an unforgettable senior season.
Te'o was honored three times at the 22nd Home Depot College Football Awards show Thursday night at Disney World, including the Maxwell Award for the nation's most outstanding player.
Te'o has now won six major awards since the end of Notre Dame's regular season, also taking home the Bednarik Award for top defensive player and Walter Camp Foundation player of the year award on Thursday. He became the first defensive player to win the Maxwell Award since 1980, ending a string of nine straight quarterbacks.
Next up is the Heisman Trophy ceremony on Saturday night, with Te'o and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel considered the favorites. Then Te'o will try to help the Fighting Irish dethrone defending champion Alabama in the Discover BCS National Championship Game.
"I'm at a loss for words," he said of winning the Maxwell. "The last time I ever dreamt of winning that award was on a video game. So to win it is a mind-blowing experience."
Wearing a black beaded lei representing his native Hawaii, Te'o said coming back to play football following the deaths of his grandmother and girlfriend just four days apart this season makes everything he's achieved since then more worthwhile.
"I never thought that me coming back for my senior year would be the best situation for me with the tragedy," Te'o said. "It's a testament that the Lord answered my prayers and that I had 80-plus brothers there with me, sacrificing for me."
Te'o finished the regular season with 103 tackles and seven interceptions.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, who was presented with the Coach of the Year award after leading the Irish to their first 12-0 regular season since 1988, said Te'o is an example of the family culture he's tried to build in his three seasons in South Bend.
"Everybody knows you don't do it with one guy," Kelly said. "Collectively, everybody just bought in. ... We still got one (game) left. We want to finish it off the right way."
The Walter Camp award is voted on by the 124 Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches and sports information directors.
Te'o beat out the other Walter Camp finalists: Manziel, Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, USC receiver Marqise Lee and Oregon running back Kenjon Barner.
Te'o is the third defensive player to win and fourth Notre Dame player to be selected.
Te'o also beat out Manziel and Klein for the Maxwell Award. The same three players are up for the Heisman Trophy, to be presented Saturday.
For the Bednarik, Te'o beat out finalists Jadeveon Clowney from South Carolina and Georgia's Jarvis Jones.
Te'o's awards are the fourth, fifth and sixth national awards he has received since the end of the regular season. He already has won the Butkus Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Lombardi Award.
Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award
Manziel became the first freshman to win the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award.
Manziel, who beat out fellow finalists Klein and Braxton Miller from Ohio State, led the Aggies to a 10-2 record and a AT&T Cotton Bowl berth.
Manziel passed for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns and posted a Southeastern Conference-record 4,600 yards of total offense on his way to his unanimous selection for Associated Press SEC offensive player of the year.
Manziel acknowledged he will be nervous Saturday knowing he has a chance to win college football's most hallowed individual honor. Three sophomores have won the Heisman, including Tim Tebow in 2007, Sam Bradford in 2008 and Mark Ingram in 2009. The best a first-year player has ever done is second.
"I had high expectations, but I never would have expected this for myself," said Manziel. "I'll be with two of the best players in the country, all eyes are on you. It's the biggest award in college football. I think you're gonna have a few butterflies."
Doak Walker Award
Wisconsin's Montee Ball won the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation's outstanding running back.
The senior beat out fellow finalists Barner from Oregon and UCLA's Johnathan Franklin.
Ball rushed for 21 touchdowns and 1,730 yards this season to lead an offense that ranked 12th in the nation in rushing yards per game with 237.8.
He helped propel the Badgers to a 70-31 win over Nebraska in the Big Ten title game, earning a berth in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio.
Wisconsin will be the first five-loss team to play in the Rose Bowl and is the first school to represent the conference in three consecutive Rose Bowls since Michigan.
USC's Lee won the Biletnikoff Award for the nation's outstanding wide receiver.
Lee beat out fellow finalists West Virginia junior Stedman Bailey and Baylor senior Terrance Williams.
He is the fifth sophomore since 2000 to win the honor.
Lee was Pac-12 offensive player of the year after posting 112 receptions for 1,680 yards, both conference records. He had 15 touchdowns and averaged 215.7 all-purpose yards a game.
He also had 2,588 all-purpose yards -- third highest in the FBS.
Texas A&M junior Luke Joeckel won the Outland Trophy, given to the nation's outstanding interior lineman.
He beat out fellow finalists Jonathan Cooper from North Carolina and Alabama's Barrett Jones.
Joeckel helped the Aggies average 235.1 yards rushing per game. The Aggies also had the third-ranked scoring offense in the country at 44.8 points per game.
He is the third straight offensive player to win the award and first from Texas A&M.
Joeckel said that he has been amazed at watching Manziel's exploits this season.
"It's hard to protect for someone when nobody knows where he is," Joeckel said of Manziel. "He's a fun guy to block for."
Jim Thorpe Award
Johnthan Banks won the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation's top defensive back.
The Mississippi State senior is the fourth consecutive SEC player to win the award.
Banks beat out Alabama's Dee Milliner and Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas.
Banks had 59 tackles, four interceptions and seven pass breakups this year. He was also chosen first-team All-SEC by The Associated Press.
Lou Groza Collegiate Place Kicker Award
Tulane's Cairo Santos won the Lou Groza Collegiate Place Kicker Award.
Santos, originally from Brazil, beat out fellow finalists Dustin Hopkins from Florida State and Caleb Sturgis from Florida.
The junior is the second kicker from Tulane to win the honor, joining Seth Marler in 2001.
Santos converted all 21 of his field-goal attempts this year, including 12 kicks of 40 yards or longer.
Ray Guy Award
Louisiana Tech's Ryan Allen won the Ray Guy Award as the nation's most outstanding collegiate punter for the second consecutive year.
Allen beat out fellow finalists Kyle Christy from Florida and Ball State's Scott Kovanda.
Allen recorded the highest punting average in the country at 48 yards per punt, totaling 2,162 yards for the season.
Texas long snapper Nate Boyer was also honored with the Disney Spirit Award, given annually to the most inspirational figure or team.
Boyer, a 32-year-old sophomore, earned a Bronze Star for his service with the U.S. Army Special Forces Unit and has also provided assistance to autistic children and Darfur refugees.
Former Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian was also honored with the Contribution to College Football Award for his works off the field.
Kelly said the former coach is every bit as revered as he was in his prime leading the Irish.
"He walks with a limp, but let me tell you, he could still coach today. And he can tell me things about my football team." Kelly said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.