Notre Dame's Te'o deserves to be a Heisman candidate

Now that we know in 2012 that ND means Notre Defense, it is also time to proclaim that linebacker Manti Te’o should be a top candidate for  the Heisman.

This year, there is no clear cut candidate. Last year, when there were plenty, LSU’s defensive back Tyrann Mathieu made it all the way to New York City as a finalist.

Over the years, a defensive player occasionally gets some pub. But rarely have they had the impact and character  of Te’o, who not only has led a renaissance in South Bend, but has done it by leading the defense, an unlikely turnaround at Notre Dame where offense has been king.

Te’o was a star recruit, a marquee name equal to that of Jimmy Clausen when that blond bomber left California to come to South Bend for Charlie Weis.

Te’o left Hawaii, was an instant star for the Irish, and evoked comparisons to all of the previous greats who played linebacker. When some suggested he should or might transfer, he remained faithful, even through a difficult coaching transition.

Then, this season, both his girlfriend and grandmother died.

The Irish are 4-0, and each time the defense dominated , especially last week against the mercurial Dennard Robinson.

The Irish need to keep winning, but it is very possible that Te’o, too, will wind up in New York in December.

No one would be more deserving.