CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FWAA) Nebraska tackle Ndamukong Suh on Monday night claimed the 2009 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which annually is awarded to the best defensive player in college football.
Suh became the 17th winner of the award as voted upon by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and sponsored by the Charlotte Touchdown Club. He's the first Nebraska player to win the award.
"This was definitely a big surprise," Suh said at tonight's presentation banquet. "I want to thank all the other guys here. They are all great players. And I would like to thank the Bronko Nagurski family as well as the (Nebraska) coaches, Bo Pelini and his staff and my parents, This is a great honor. I am speechless. I was definitely not planning on winning this award."
But Pelini, also in attendance, was not surprised, saying, "I definitely think you picked the right man. He is a tremendous football player and a great individual."
Suh a 6-4, 300-pound senior from Portland, Ore., is considered a top NFL Draft prospect and will receive his degree in construction management. He is also a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, the Walter Camp Award, the Outland Trophy, the Bednarik Award, the Rotary Lombardi Award and the Lott Trophy. The winner of the 2009 Outland Trophy, presented to the nation's best interior lineman by the FWAA, will be announced Thursday night on "The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show" live on ESPN.
During the 2009 regular season Suh led Nebraska in tackles with 50 unassisted and 32 assisted. He had 23 tackles for losses (12 sacks for 77 yards in losses), 10 pass breakups, 26 quarterback hurries, one interception, one forced fumble and three blocked kicks.
In the 13-12 loss to Texas in the Big 12 Championship Game this past Saturday, Suh was credited with 4.5 sacks of Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy, seven total tackles for loss, a career-high 12 tackles and two quarterback hurries.
"He's just a tremendous football player," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. "He finds a way within our defense to make plays, he gets it understands the game. He can just beat you in a lot of different ways. He is very instinctive for a defensive lineman which is very rare."
Suh's sack of Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert in the first quarter of the Cornhuskers' 27-12 victory over the Tigers in early October possibly changed the course of the Big 12 North season. Gabbert suffered and ankle injury on the play. Although he continued to play, his mobility was hampered and Suh intercepted a Gabbert pass in the fourth quarter that sparked the come-from-behind win.
Suh's efforts certainly mirror the person for whom the trophy is named. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is given in memory of the legendary Nagurski, a former All-American lineman at Minnesota (1927-29) and star for professional football's Chicago Bears in the 1930s.
"When you look at Suh, you see a player who can dominate a game," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "That defensive front is as good in the country. He is as good as any player in America. He is unbelievable. We have enjoyed watching him play. You look at their film and he is amazing player. You don't expect that someone, so big and so fast, to be over 300 pounds and be as fast as he is, it is amazing."
The four other 2009 Nagurski Trophy finalists were Iowa linebacker Pat Angerer, Tennessee back Eric Berry, Alabama tackle Terrence Cody and TCU end Jerry Hughes. Hughes was also a finalist in 2008.
The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a non-profit organization founded in 1990 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, N.C. region. The club's activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding citizenship, scholarship, sportsmanship, and leadership of area athletes and coaches. For more information, contact John Rocco (704-347-2918 or firstname.lastname@example.org). The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is www.touchdownclub.com.
The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,100 men and women across North America who cover college football for a living. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include gameday operations, major awards, a national poll and its annual All-America team.
The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). The NCFAA was founded in 1997 as a coalition of the major collegiate football awards to protect, preserve and enhance the integrity, influence and prestige of the game's predominant awards. The NCFAA encourages professionalism and the highest standards for the administration of its member awards and the selection of their candidates and recipients. For more information, visit the association's official Web site, ncfaa.org.
For more information on the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the FWAA, contact FWAA executive director Steve Richardson (972-713-6198 or email@example.com).
Charlotte Touchdown Club