Too-early Irish Heisman look

A defensive player was in New York for Saturday's Heisman Trophy presentation. That has to be a start, right? The next day, one decision by a prominent defensive junior gave Notre Dame an outside shot at a 2012 Heisman Trophy candidate.

Manti Te'o: The inside linebacker leads the Irish this season in tackles (115), tackles for loss (13) and sacks (4.5). For his career, Te'o has 311 tackles, 28 tackles for loss and 6½ sacks. He would have likely been a first-round pick had he jumped to the NFL after this season. Notre Dame's schedule next season is loaded and expectations probably won't be what they usually are in South Bend, Ind., making this a longshot. But the season is a year away, and who honestly thought Robert Griffin III or Cam Newton would win the award before the 2011 or 2010 seasons?