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Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o wins Nagurski Trophy, readies for Heisman hype

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o won the Nagurski Trophy and Butkus Award on Monday to go along with being named a finalist for the 2012 Heisman Trophy.

Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te'o kicked off his awards tour in style on Monday, taking home the Butkus Award for the nation's best linebacker and the Nagurski Trophy for the nation's top defensive player.

Te'o graciously accepted the Nagurski Trophy in Charlotte (via CSN Chicago):

"It's definitely a great accomplishment for me," Te'o said of winning the Nagurski Trophy. "I've ways wanted to be the best. For this to happen helps me to know I'm heading in the right direction. The formula is the same: Hard work leads to success as long as I keep doing it."

Te'o will look to add the crown jewel of college football awards to his collection when he travels to New York City on Saturday for the 2012 Heisman Trophy ceremony. Te'o is Notre Dame's first Heisman Trophy finalist since Brady Quinn in 2006.

Te'o will be joined in New York by Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein. Manziel is currently the frontrunner, but the race between him and Te'o is expected to be very close.

If Te'o is able to pull off the upset, he will become the first linebacker to ever win the Heisman Trophy. He would also be the first defensive player to win the award since Charles Woodson in 1997.