Heisman Trophy watch 2012: Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o remains among frontrunners

Jonathan Daniel

Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te'o continues to remain on a short list of Heisman contenders following championship week.

Despite not having one final chance to impress voters during conference championship week, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o remains right in the thick of the Heisman Trophy discussion heading into Saturday's official presentation.

Te'o and Texas A&M redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel are each viewed as the two unquestioned favorites following the conclusion of the regular season, despite the ironic coincidence that both men were not on the field this past weekend. Manziel is recognized by most pundits as the clear-cut choice for his impressive offensive production in his first year in the SEC, although his 10-2 Aggies remain a class or two below Te'o's undefeated Fighting Irish.

Attempting to become the first man since Michigan's Charles Woodson to take home the award as a primary defensive player, Te'o is a near lock to be invited to the official trophy presentation in New York with the handful of other contenders. Te'o entered the weekend slightly behind Manziel according to ESPN.com's Heisman Watch, but could gain a slight boost from voters who find it difficult not to reward the most valuable player on the nation's lone undefeated squad.

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