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Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly buys into the Manti Te'o Heisman hype

Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly is not shying away from the Heisman talk surrounding linebacker Manti Te'o.

Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly was effusive in his praise of star linebacker Manti Te'o on Tuesday, in the process adding fuel to Te'o's budding Heisman campaign.

"What is the definition of a Heisman Trophy candidate?" Kelly said. "If you go with he has to be a quarterback or an offensive player, well, I don't think (Te'o) plays on offense."

(via Chicago Tribune)

So far on the season, Te'o has 38 tackles, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. His national star has blossomed as the Irish have begun to rocket up the polls and, according to Kelly, no one is more important in that equation than Te'o.

"But if you're looking for one of the best, if not the best college football players that impacts your program...You're also judged by how you impact your team and what you do on the defensive side of the ball. So Heisman Trophy, MVP, top collegiate player, we think he fits those categories."

A defensive player hasn't won the Heisman since Charles Woodson in 1997, but Te'o's hype may continue to grow if the Irish stay undefeated.