HONOLULU – Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o Monday became the first Hawai’i born and raised player to be invited to New York as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. Te’o was also the winner of the Butkus Award, which recognizes the top college linebacker. He was also awarded the Bronko Nagurski Award for his play on the field and his character both on and off the field. In response, Governor Neil Abercrombie issued the following statement:
“I want to congratulate Manti Te’o for the triple honor of receiving the Butkus Award and the Nagurski Award and being named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. The mission of the Heisman Trophy is to recognize outstanding college football players who exhibit excellence with integrity. Manti epitomizes great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work.
“Manti is the heart and soul of an undefeated Notre Dame team. He’s an inspiration to all the people of Hawai’i, particularly to our youth as they dream and strive for excellence.
“I agree with his coach, Brian Kelly, who said that if Manti doesn’t win the Heisman, just cut to the chase and give all future awards to the offensive player of the year. Manti is a superb athlete and role model who has generated tremendous pride throughout our state and country. He is deserving of the Heisman.”