Despite perfect record, Te'o behind Manziel for Heisman Trophy

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Despite perfect record, Te'o behind Manziel for Heisman Trophy

Amid the revelry of Notre Dame's first-ever bid to a BCS Championship was a question that's persisted for months, regarding if it's actually possible for a linebacker to win the Heisman Trophy. Manti Te'o has built as impressive a rsum as any defensive player in recent history, but despite being the backbone of a defense that led its team to a 12-0 record and national title shot, he's either second or third in most polls.

"If a guy like Manti Te'o's not going to win the Heisman, they should just make it an offensive award," coach Brian Kelly said Saturday. "Just give it to the offensive player every year and let's just cut to the chase."

That offensive player this year is Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, a dynamic redshirt freshman quarterback who's accounted for 4,600 yards of offense and 43 touchdowns for the 10-2 Aggies. It's tough to argue with those numbers, especially with Manziel playing in the SEC.

"Its something that you dream about as a kid," Manziel said on a teleconference Monday. "When youre sitting there playing all these NCAA games when youre a kid, and you create a player and you win the Heisman as a freshman because you just put up crazy numbers, its something that you can only sit back and dream about."

As long as a quarterback, running back or wide receiver is putting up monster numbers in a power conference, a defensive player -- one who doesn't play special teams -- is a longshot to win the Heisman Trophy. Manziel's electrifying style of play has captured attention nationwide, and with one week of games remaining, he's the frontrunner to be handed the Heisman in New York Dec. 8 -- even if he doesn't want to admit it.

"I dont know if thats the case," Manziel said of leading the Heisman chase. "I feel like that situation, itll play itself out, and whatevers meant to be will happen. ... I think that the Heisman and all the other awards like that, theyll play themselves out."

The award doesn't go to the best player on the nation's best team. It's not a most valuable player award, it's a best player award with plenty of wiggle room for team success.

Te'o may be the best player in the country, but there's really no comparing tackles to touchdowns. It's the same debate baseball goes through when a pitcher emerges as the most valuable player -- and hey, Justin Verlander won the AL MVP in 2011.

But it's much more difficult to quantify a single player's defensive impact than that of a quarterback, running back or wide receiver, all of whom rack up yards, touchdowns and time on highlight reels. Te'o's seven interceptions are the most by an FBS linebacker in a dozen years, and are the second-highest total in college football's top division. He has 103 tackles, 1 12 sacks, 5 12 tackles for a loss, four quarterback hits and two fumble recoveries.

That's an impressive line, but likely not enough to win the Heisman. But Te'o's largest goal of the season is still on the table.

"I wanted to go to the National Championship, and now I am," Te'o said. "If I win, that's going to be a great honor for my family, but if I don't, I'm just glad we're going to Miami."

James Shields ready to start rehab assignment for White Sox

James Shields ready to start rehab assignment for White Sox

James Shields' first trip to the minor leagues in 11 years won't be totally unfamiliar.

The White Sox pitcher hopes to head out on a rehab assignment after he threw three innings in the bullpen on Monday afternoon. It would be Shields' first foray in the minors since 2006.

From the description, it sounds as if Shields, who has been on the 10-day disabled list since April 21, would head to Triple-A Charlotte for his assignment. Charlotte faces Tampa Bay affiliate the Durham Bulls starting next Monday.

"It's pretty funny because if I go out on Saturday we're going to be facing my old team, Durham," Shields said. "I'm not going to be facing them, but yeah it's always good to see where you came from. I spent six years and a couple months in the minor leagues, so I did the whole minor league grind. So I know how hard those guys work down there."

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Shields threw for the third time in five days under the watchful eye of pitching coach Don Cooper. The right-hander continues to feel good in his recovery and said his arm strength has returned faster than he hoped. Ideally, Shields would like to return after one or two rehab starts. He said he'd like to be built up for 5-6 innings before he gets back to the White Sox.

"I worked really hard trying to get back, trying to get my body in shape and get ready for that," Shields said. "I think we're ready to go on a rehab assignment."

Reliever Nate Jones could also be nearing a rehab assignment after he threw his fifth bullpen session on Monday. On the DL with right elbow neuritis, Jones mixed in sliders during his 25-pitch session.

"We are just getting the feel of (sliders) and seeing how they react," Jones said. "We are taking steps in the right direction and if I wasn't feeling good, I would probably not be throwing bullpens and stuff."
 

White Sox Road Ahead: Facing Chris Sale and the Red Sox

White Sox Road Ahead: Facing Chris Sale and the Red Sox

It'll be tough for Chris Sale to be humble when he makes his return to Chicago and faces his old teammates on Tuesday, but he'll do his best.

The former White Sox ace will face off against his old team as a member of the Red Sox (coverage begins at 6:30 on CSN with White Sox Pregame Live) and Dan Hayes and Siera Santos discussed what the atmosphere will be like on this week's Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and NW Indiana Honda dealers. Sale has dominated in his first season in Boston, going 5-2 with a 2.34 ERA.

Sale met with the Chicago media on Monday morning, and Hayes said the biggest takeaway from that presser was just how much Sale appreciated his time in Chicago.

"I think the fact that he realizes how important this was, how much he grew up with the White Sox," Hayes said in the video above. "He talked about that at length. Obviously last year was a little bit of a rouigh year, there were quite a few incidents, he said there were some blips on the radar, but mostly (he) had good times here than (he) had bad times and he said it's what has made him who he is. and he realizes that he apprecaites what he was able to accomplish here. misses the fans buit he's also moved on and he's doing well with the white sox."

See what else Siera and Dan had to say in the video above.