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Notre Dame

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Associated Press
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, left, stands for a photo with former Notre Dame coaches Ara Parseghian, center, and Lou Holtz, before the Home Depot College Football Awards in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Thursday.

Irish linebacker rakes in honors

Te’o wins Maxwell Award as top player; Kelly, Eifert also feted


– Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o passed former Michigan star Charles Woodson’s record for national postseason awards Thursday as tight end Tyler Eifert, a Bishop Dwenger graduate, and coach Brian Kelly were also honored for their seasons during Home Depot College Football Awards show.

Te’o’s awards total grew to six when he was named the winner of the Maxwell Award, given to the player of the year, and the Chuck Bednarik Award, given to the nation’s top defensive player, during the awards show. He was named the Walter Camp national player of the year and a first-team Walter Camp All-American before the show.

“I’m lost for words,” Te’o said during ESPN’s broadcast. “The last time I ever dreamt of winning (the Maxwell) was on a video game. For it to really happen is really mind-blowing to me.”

Te’o, who is a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, had already won the Butkus Award (top linebacker), Nagurski Trophy (best defensive player) and Lombardi Award (top lineman or linebacker).

Woodson won five awards in 1997, collecting the Bednarik, Nagurski, Thorpe (top defensive back), Walter Camp and Heisman.

Te’o was the first defensive player to win the Maxwell since 1980, the first linebacker to win the Bednarik since 2008 and the third defensive player to win the Walter Camp.

The 6-foot-2, 255-pound senior led Notre Dame with 103 tackles and seven interceptions.

“When you consider all the names like (Texas A&M quarterback) Johnny Manziel, (Kansas State quarterback) Collin Klein and (Georgia linebacker) Jarvis Jones, it’s definitely big for me and my team,” Te’o said when he was named the Walter Camp player of the year. “For me to be recognized for this honor is definitely very humbling. I never would have thought that I would be recognized in this capacity.”

Eifert, who was named a second-team All-American by the Walter Camp Foundation, was presented with the John Mackey Award, for top tight end, at the show. He was named the winner Wednesday. The 6-6, 251-pound senior led Notre Dame in receptions (44) and receiving yards (624) and had four TDs this season.

Kelly received another Home Depot coach of the year, which was announced Wednesday. He is the first two-time winner, claiming it in 2009 with Cincinnati.

Former Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian was given the NCFAA Contributions to College Football Award, and defensive coordinator Bob Diaco was recognized as the Broyles Award winner as the top assistant coach during Thursday’s show. Irish defensive end Stephon Tuitt was named a second-team All-American by the Walter Camp Foundation.

Other award winners: Manziel (Davey O’Brien National Quarterback); USC’s Marqise Lee (Biletnikoff Award, outstanding wide receiver); Wisconsin senior Montee Ball (Doak Walker Award, outstanding running back); Mississippi State senior Johnthan Banks (Jim Thorpe Award, top defensive back); Tulane’s Cairo Santos (Lou Groza Collegiate Place Kicker Award); Texas A&M junior Luke Joeckel (Outland Trophy, outstanding interior lineman); Louisiana Tech senior Ryan Allen (Ray Guy Award, outstanding punter); and Alabama senior Barrett Jones (Rimington Trophy, outstanding center).