120 Players You Need To Know - Ndamukong Suh
Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh
Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh
Posted Mar 2, 2009

Who are the players you need to know about? Maybe they've been under the radar, or maybe they're the future NFL stars who'll be a really big deal next April. Get to know the stars of 2009 as CFN profiles 120 Players You Need To Know over 120 days (one for each team) including Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh.

120 Players You Must Know In 2009

Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh

By Pete Fiutak

Who is Ndamukong Suh? ... Nebraska has had some phenomenal talent on the defensive line in its long and storied history, but few were able to come up with the type of season, especially at tackle, that Suh had in 2008.

Not since Rich Glover was wreaking havoc in the early 1970s had the Huskers had an inside presence who could get into the backfield as easily as Suh could last season. There’s one major difference between Glover and Suh … size.

Glover was a 6-1, 234-pound blur into the backfield. Suh is a 6-4, 305-pound athlete on the inside who can stuff the run, chase down ball carriers, and beat double-teams with his quickness. Not only did Suh lead the team in sacks and tackles for loss, but he also led the Huskers in tackles and tied for the lead in interceptions. He was the only Husker to score off an interception, and he did it twice. It was the first time since 1973 that a defensive lineman had led the Huskers in tackles, while the 76 stops were the most by a linemen since 1992.

The First-Team All-Big 12 performer had thrived under head coach Bo Pelini and a coaching staff that knows a thing or two about how to crank out top defensive linemen. Pelini was the defensive coordinator at LSU when Glenn Dorsey was putting together his fantastic career, and Suh has the potential to be every bit as good.

“Obviously he’s a big force in the middle of our defense,” said Pelini. “He’s a tremendous player. He’s an unselfish football player, a great person and the kind of person we want to be a focal point of our football team. Guys like him who have the kind of work ethic he has, the type of attitude and the type of character can make an impact on your entire football program.”

Suh's best game so far was ... Suh has had a few impressive statistical games, taking an interception 49 yards for a touchdown in last year’s win over San Jose State and cranking out eight tackles with two sacks in the Gator Bowl win over Clemson, but the best performance was in last year’s 45-35 win over Kansas. Suh made 12 tackles, 2.5 sacks and four tackles for loss. He also caught a two-yard touchdown pass.
Why you should care about Suh ... In a Big 12 starved for a little bit of defense, Nebraska, mainly because of Pelini and his staff, is starting to put together a good one. It all starts with Suh up front, who helped lead the way for a defense that finished 12th in the nation in sacks and 21st against the run. A case could be made that there’s no more valuable defensive player in the Big 12 going into the season.

Pro Potential ... With Suh’s size and quickness, he would’ve likely been a late first rounder/early second rounder at worst, had he decided to come out early. The NFL loves athletic, versatile tackles who can get to the quarterback, and with the right workout, he likely would’ve been one of the hot, high-rising prospects coming out of the Combine. If he can have another strong year and if he can stay healthy, he’ll almost certainly be a first round selection, and possibly a top ten overall pick, in 2010. While he could play in any system, he’ll likely be at his best as a defensive end in a 3-4 system.

Negatives about Suh ... So far he has been a bit of a one-year wonder. While effort has never been an issue, he didn’t produce up to his immense talent and potential until last season. A knee injury was part of the problem, but the coaching staff also wanted to light a bit more of a fire under Suh to get him to become a next-level playmaker. He took to the coaching and became an even harder worker last year, and now it’s time for him to prove it wasn’t a fluke.

A cool thing about Suh that you probably didn't know ... So where did the name come from? In the Ngema tribe in Cameroon, where his father is from, Ndamukong means “House of Spears.”

Career statistics
2006: 19 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 7 tackles for loss, 1 interception
2007: 34 tackles, 1 sack,  tackles for loss
2008: 76 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 16 tackles for loss, two interceptions, both for touchdowns, and a two-yard touchdown catch

Statistics, information and photo provided by the Nebraska sports information department


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