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Notre Dame's Manti Te'o could boost chances of future defensive Heisman hopefuls

Notre Dame's Manti Te'o came close to winning the Heisman Trophy in 2012 but, even though he didn't, he may have boosted the chances of other defensive players to win it in the future.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Many felt that Manti Te'o should have won the Heisman Trophy this year but, as usual, an offensive player took home the honors. Acceptance for a defensive player to win the Heisman has been low of late, but Te'o did come very, very close. So close that he might have made an impact on how people perceive the award going forward.

J.J. Stankevitz of CSN Chicago explored that line of thought, suggesting that Te'o may be paving the way for another player, such as South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

Te'o had more second-place votes than all but one Heisman runner-up, and finished just about 300 points behind someone who set the SEC record for all-purpose yards. One could say that he deserved the award, but it was still surprising to see him get the kind of votes he did.

The fact that Te'o is a middle linebacker could have something to do with him not winning. Clowney finished sixth in the voting and had four first-place votes in his sophomore year. As a defensive end, he makes some of the more highlight-reel plays and could be on the Heisman ballot with a strong senior season.

And if he happens to win it, he might have Te'o to thank for helping change the perception.