Players You Must Know In 2009
Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh
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.
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
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.”
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.
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.”
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
Statistics, information and photo provided by the
Nebraska sports information department