Te'o wins Lott trophy, his seventh award

Last year the ceremony for the Lott IMPACT Trophy brought Notre Dame perhaps its biggest news of the 2011 season, an announcement that planted the seeds for this undefeated 2012 campaign.

This year's ceremony was far less dramatic, though it did signal the close of one historic seven-day stretch while giving way to the process that could usher in another Irish milestone.

Manti Te'o won the Lott IMPACT Trophy on Sunday night, his record seventh national award. His six previous awards since Monday had already given him one more than record-holder Charles Woodson notched in 1997, but the ceremony in Newport Beach, Calif., marked the end of this six-city in seven-day stretch for Te'o, allowing him to head back to Notre Dame and prepare with his teammates for the national title game against Alabama.

It was at the Lott ceremony last year that Te'o made a surprise announcement that he would be returning to school for his senior season, passing up a likely first-round NFL draft selection and the millions that would have come with it. Te'o didn't walk away with any hardware that night -- Boston College's Luke Kuechly won the award -- but he is now playing for a much bigger prize 12 months later.

And his draft stock has only gone up, too.