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NU’s Suh named Heisman Trophy finalist December 8, 2009

Filed under: Sports — kikenileda @ 11:10 AM

By BRIAN CHRISTOPHERSON / Lincoln Journal Star

 
Monday, Dec 07, 2009 – 06:04:23 pm CST
National analysts have struggled all year trying to pronounce his name.

They better get it straight this week. That’s Ndamukong Suh — as in (En-dom-ah-ken) Suh, Heisman Trophy finalist.

The news arrived on Monday that “Big Suh” has bucked the odds and been invited to the Heisman Trophy ceremony.


Story Photo
Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (LJS file)
 

Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (LJS file)

Joining him on the list of finalists are Stanford running back Toby Gerhart, Alabama running back Mark Ingram, Texas quarterback Colt McCoy and Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.

“It
is a tremendous honor and very humbling to be a finalist for a
prestigious award like the Heisman Trophy,” Suh said in a statement.
“I’m excited to be included with a great group of finalists for this
year’s award.”

Husker coach Bo Pelini said Suh is deserving of any honors that come his way this week.

“He
is a special football player, as good as anyone in the country in my
opinion,” Pelini said. “It is good to see the Heisman voters have
recognized the true impact a defensive lineman like Suh can have on a
football game.”

The stiff-armed bronzed statue usually goes to
pretty boy quarterbacks and fleet-footed running backs. That the senior
defensive tackle has crashed the party this year speaks to how
absolutely amazing Suh has been this 2009 season.

Only one primarily defensive player (Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997) has ever won the award.

Suh
has 82 tackles, 23 tackles for losses, 24 quarterback hurries and 12
sacks from a position that generally doesn’t generate flattering
statistics.

Despite those numbers, Suh was perhaps viewed as a
longshot candidate by national pundits going into this weekend. Most of
the attention was going to offensive players, as is always the case for
this particular award.

But the senior defensive tackle had a masterful performance

in the Big 12 Championship

, claiming 4 1/2 sacks on Texas quarterback and fellow Heisman candidate Colt McCoy.

None of those sacks was more memorable than one early in the third quarter when he tossed McCoy aside like he was his
kid brother.

Those sorts of images count when it comes to gaining Heisman attention.

In
many early polls trying to figure out the balloting, Suh’s name is
coming up near the top in what figures to be a very close race.

Many national analysts were touting Suh on Monday, including ESPN.com’s Pat Forde, who is sending his Heisman vote Suh’s way.

“Ndamukong
Suh was unbelievable in the Big 12 Championship game,” Forde said on
ESPN’s “First Take” Monday morning. “I’ve said all season he reminds me
of Reggie White.
He may not end up being as good as Reggie White, but in terms of
physically explosive player, he’s phenomenal. … I think he is the
best player in the country, which is what the award is supposed to be.”

If Suh won the award, he would become the fourth Husker Heisman winner, joining Johnny Rodgers (1972), Mike Rozier (1983) and Eric Crouch.

Suh has
already begun his travels on the award circuit this week. He figures to win his share of hardware — he is a finalist for the Walter Camp Award, Lombardi Award, Outland Trophy, Bednarik Award, Lott Trophy and Nagurski Award.

The Heisman ceremony will be held Saturday night and televised on ESPN.

That Suh gets a front-row seat? Husker defensive coordinator Carl Pelini said he’s not surprised.

“He
deserves every honor he gets, and more,” he said. “In my opinion, he is
without a doubt the best player in college football.”

 

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