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Manziel Headlines Heisman Hopefuls

Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein throws during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Texas, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, in Manhattan, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein throws during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Texas, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, in Manhattan, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

New York — Johnny Manziel and Manti Te’o are in position to make Heisman Trophy history.

Manziel, the redshirt freshman quarterback from Texas A&M, and Te’o, Notre Dame’s star linebacker, along with Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, were invited yesterday to attend the Heisman presentation ceremony.

Manziel is the favorite to win college football’s most famous player of the year award on Saturday night in Manhattan. He would be the first freshman to win the Heisman and the first Texas A&M player since halfback John David Crow won the school’s only Heisman in 1957.

“I’m overwhelmed by this tremendous honor of representing Texas A&M, the 12th Man and all my teammates in New York,” Manziel said in a statement. “This is a dream come true for me, and I know it’s a credit to all my coaches and teammates. I definitely wouldn’t be a Heisman finalist without my teammates and coaches.”

Three sophomores have won the award (Tim Tebow in 2007, Sam Bradford in 2008 and Mark Ingram in 2009), but the best a first-year player has ever done is second.

Adrian Peterson of Oklahoma finished second to Southern California quarterback Matt Leinart in 2004. Peterson was a true freshman. As a redshirt freshman, Manziel attended A&M last year and practiced with the team but did not play.

Michael Vick of Virginia Tech came in third in 1999 as a redshirt freshman and Herschel Walker was a true freshman for Georgia in 1980 when he finished third in the Heisman balloting.

Manziel and Texas A&M will play No. 12 Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.

Te’o and the Irish face No. 2 Alabama in the BCS championship game on Jan. 7 in Miami.

Klein would be the first player from Kansas State to win the Heisman.

K-State’s Klein
Wins Unitas Award

Baltimore, Md. — Kansas State’s Collin Klein has won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, given to the nation’s top upperclassman quarterback.

Klein passed for 2,490 yards, ran for 890 and accounted for 37 touchdowns (22 rushing and 15 passing) for the No. 7 Wildcats (11-1).

The other finalists were Southern California’s Matt Barkley, West Virginia’s Geno Smith, Florida State’s EJ Manuel and Alabama’s AJ McCarron. The winner was announced on Monday.

Klein is also a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

Last year’s Unitas Award winner was Andrew Luck.

Spurrier Gets
Two-Year Extension

Columbia, s.c. — Steve Spurrier has received a two-year contract extension that will keep him at South Carolina through 2017.

The university’s board of trustees unanimously approved the extension yesterday. There was no salary increase in the deal. Spurrier is scheduled to again earn $3.3 million in 2013.

A year ago, trustees gave Spurrier two additional years on the contract after the football season, then voted him a raise of $475,000 this past February to his current salary.

Spurrier has led the Gamecocks to consecutive seasons with double-digit victories, a first in program history. No. 11 South Carolina finished 6-2 in the Southeastern Conference for a second straight year. Spurrier became the school’s all-time victories leader with his 65th win when the Gamecocks defeated Clemson on Nov. 24.

South Carolina (10-2) faces No. 19 Michigan (8-4) in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day. Should the Gamecocks win, it would give Spurrier his third bowl win at the school — also tops in the program.

University President Harris Pastides said South Carolina was “delighted in the success we’ve been having.”

Athletic director Ray Tanner said Spurrier wasn’t concerned about his financial package, but thought adding two more years would help with football recruiting.

Spurrier was grateful to the school’s leaders for the contract extension.

“We have achieved a lot of goals, but we have not yet won the SEC championship,” he said. “Hopefully, we can do that within the next couple of years.”

The Gamecocks looked on track to contend for the league and national titles midway through this season. They were 6-0 and ranked third in the country after a dominating 35-7 win over Georgia.

But South Carolina dropped consecutive top-10 showdowns, losing at LSU (23-21) and Florida (44-11) to fall out of the championship chase.

Still, defeating rival Clemson for a fourth-straight season left a good taste in Spurrier’s mouth. He and some players were honored Sunday at halftime of the Gamecocks’ basketball game and Spurrier couldn’t resist needling his state rival.

He explained to the crowd how his team had a difficult game with “that school from the Upstate.”

“As all of you know, it was a very close game,” Spurrier continued with a grin. “Went into the fourth quarter, our defense played very well, our kicker made his kicks and we were able to beat Wofford, 24-7.”

Incentives in Spurrier’s contract also remain the same as in the contract approved last February. In that deal, the school agreed to add the Outback Bowl to the list of other top-tier postseason games where Spurrier would earn $100,000 bonus for playing there.

Spurrier has already earned bonuses totaling $150,000 for 10 victories. He can get an additional $200,000 for an 11th win.

Tanner said Spurrier has elevated the football program in every way and “is well deserving of this contract extension.”