Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o was selected Sunday as the recipient of the Lott IMPACT Trophy, given to the college football defensive player who has had the biggest impact on his team both on and off the field.
The three other finalists were also linebackers -- Arthur Brown of Kansas State, Jarvis Jones of Georgia and Chase Thomas of Stanford. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice read the card announcing Te'o had won after earlier giving the keynote speech at the ceremony at The Pacific Club in Newport Beach.
Te'o then praised the other finalists, as well as his parents, Brian and Ottilia, and Fighting Irish Coach Brian Kelly.
Te'o said he was particularly grateful to Kelly "for not only what he does for me on the football field, but teaching me how to walk like a man on this world."
Te'o singled out Kelly for the support he gave on Sept. 12 when he learned that his grandmother and girlfriend both died within the span of 24 hours.
"I called my parents and I was crying and my head was down and I heard this voice," Te'o said at the Newport Beach ceremony. "It was Coach Kelly. That man came to my aid when I needed him most."
Notre Dame's general scholarship fund will receive a $25,000 donation, and the three other finalists' schools will each receive $5,000 from the IMPACT Foundation, which recognizes and supports national and local charities serving youths.
The award has been presented annually since 2004 and is named for Ronnie Lott, who played safety for USC from 1977-80 and was named to the College Football Hall of Fame, and played for four NFL teams from 1981-1995 and was inducted in the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 2000.
IMPACT is an acronym for integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity.
The award is determined by a vote of selected members of the national media, previous finalists, the board of the Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation and former college football coaches.
-City News Service