Suh honored as nation's top lineman

Updated: December 10, 2009, 12:16 PM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Ndamukong Suh picked up another honor Wednesday night, taking home the Rotary Lombardi Award as the nation's top lineman.

But in this week of picking up trophies, he took some time away from the celebration to apologize to fellow Lombardi Award finalist Jerry Hughes of TCU for not knocking off Texas in the Big 12 Championship game on Saturday.

Suh was chasing Colt McCoy with seconds left in the game and he threw the ball away as the clock ticked to zero. But a review ruled there was a second remaining and the Longhorns kicked a field goal for the 13-12 win.

A loss could have given undefeated TCU a spot in the national championship game. Instead Texas is headed to the game against Alabama.

"I wish I didn't get to him," Suh said. "I pushed him down and forced him to throw that ball away. I should've let him run around a little bit longer, then we wouldn't have had to worry about trying to block a field goal."

Suh delivered his regrets to Hughes earlier in the week when the two were up for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy. Suh also won the Nagurski Trophy as the nation's top defensive player, and is a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

"I told him, 'No apology needed, you did everything you could,'" Hughes said. "We were all rooting for Nebraska, obviously. One second from probably going to the national championship game, that's not too bad, you know? TCU has come a long way and for us to even be mentioned in the conversation with the national championship is a great honor."

Alabama's Terrence Cody and Gerald McCoy of Oklahoma were the other finalists.

Suh finished the regular season with 82 tackles, 23 tackles for losses and 12 sacks. In the Big 12 championship game, he had a career-high 12 tackles, including a school-record seven tackles for losses and 4 sacks.

Suh wasn't sure how much his performance against the Longhorns contributed to the number of individual honors he's received this week.

"I went out in that game and all I wanted to do was come out with the Big 12 championship ring and unfortunately it ended the way it did and I didn't get a chance to do that," he said. "I don't know exactly how much that weighed into it, maybe a little bit, maybe a lot. I don't know."

The Big 12 defensive player of the year also is up for the Walter Camp Award, the Lott Trophy, the Bednarik Award and the Outland Trophy.

Suh is the first Nebraska player to win the Lombardi Award since Grant Wistrom nabbed the honor in 1997 and the fifth overall.

Suh said Nebraska's history of having great defenses was one of the major reasons he chose the school.

"We were kind of in the dumps when I was getting recruited, a couple of bad years had come before ... I wanted to be part of a unit or a class that started to bring that program back," he said. "My class leaving this year, I think, has helped that process tremendously. I hope we have. We're not quite there, but you're starting to see the 'Blackshirts' again, for sure."

Suh's voice shook as he accepted the award and afterward he said winning it was a "total surprise."

"In my eyes this is a very huge one, especially at my position," he said. "The guys that are the unsung heroes in college football and football all-around, guys that just do the dirty work and get the job done for everybody else are the defensive linemen and offense linemen."

The Rotary Club of Houston has presented the award annually since 1970. Voting totals from the award are not released.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press