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Te’o wins Butkus Award (Jaylon Smith does too)

Dec 3, 2012, 2:49 PM EDT

Irish linebacker Te'o follows the play against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during their NCAA college football game at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend

After shedding 15 pounds in the offseason to help make him a faster player, Manti Te’o better be careful. On the banquet circuit, the pounds pile on pretty quickly.

Te’o, on the first stop of an awards tour that’ll pile plenty of kudos on Notre Dame’s middle linebacker, was awarded the 28th annual Butkus Award today for being the nation’s top linebacker. He received a congratulatory phone call from the legendary linebacker himself today and will receive the award on December 17th back on campus at Notre Dame.

Te’o’s senior season, where he tallied 103 tackles and had seven interceptions as he led the Irish to a 12-0 record, was good enough to have him selected by a panel of 51 coaches, scouts, journalists, and recruits as the winner with 83 points. He finished ahead of Georgia’s Jarvis Jones (54), C.J. Mosley of Alabama (21), Kevin Winter  of LSU and Dion Jordan of Oregon.

“Manti Te’o embodies the toughness, intensity, competitiveness and on-field demeanor of a throwback performer like Dick Butkus himself,” said Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly in a statement. “Te’o was the first ever High School Butkus winner (2008), and he has lived up to all the expectations and positioned his team for a chance at the national championship. He has been an inspiration to his team and community, and serves as a model citizen.”

Making the Butkus Award a truly Notre Dame affair, Irish commit Jaylon Smith was awarded the high school Butkus Award, with the five-star Bishop Luers linebacker also getting a phone call from Butkus to receive the good news. At 6-foot-3, 220-pounds, Smith led his high school team to another state championship, carrying the offensive load as a running back while also starring at linebacker, a position he’ll play in South Bend.

“Jaylon Smith distinguished himself on the field and in the classroom. Already committed to Notre Dame, Smith has been a part of four state championship teams. He was a dominant two-way performer with the talent to follow in Te’o’s footsteps,” said Arkush in a press release.

The Butkus Award honors the best linebacker in the country, but also emphasizes the work players do off the field.

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