To win the 78th annual Heisman Trophy, he beat Kansas State University quarterback Collin Klein and Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te’o.
Regardless of who won, it was a class of notable firsts: a first for Kansas State versus the first freshman or the first true defensive player to ever win the highest honor in college football.
Klein would have been the first Kansas State Wildcat to win the Heisman Trophy. He passed for 2,490 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushed for 890 yards and 22 touchdowns this season.
The senior holds the record for most rushing touchdowns in two seasons, totaling at 49 between 2011 and 2012. Klein ranks second in Kansas State history for scoring with 336 points and third in career yards with 7,028.
He also won the Johnny Unitas Award as top senior quarterback in the NCAA.
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Manziel becomes the first-ever freshman Heisman Trophy winner. The 20-year-old quarterback passed for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,181 yards and 19 TDs.
He’s the first quarterback in SEC history, and only the fifth player ever in the NCAA, to have 3,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in the same season. Upon surpassing 4,600 yards, he set a new SEC record for total yards in a season.
Manziel holds a Texas A&M record of logging eight straight games with 300 or more total yards.
“It’s just surreal, that’s the best way I can describe it,” Manziel said of the nomination.
Te’o would have been the first true defensive player to ever win the award, joining seven previous Notre Dame players as a Heisman Trophy winner. This season, Te’o helped lead the Fighting Irish to an undefeated season with 101 tackles; he ranks third in Notre Dame history for career tackles at 427.
Te’o amassed a school-record seven interceptions in his third-straight 100-plus tackle season.
The Irish will face the Alabama Crimson Tide for the national championship.
"When I decided to come back, it was just to get better, improve my own game, just enjoy the experiences and memories I could create with my team and my family," he told the Chicago Sun-Times.
"I never thought I'd create memories in New York, let alone create memories on Jan. 7 in Miami."