In the weeks leading up to the 2010 NFL Draft, Ndamukong Suh became a certainty for the second overall pick held by the Detroit Lions. The St. Louis Rams were a lock to acquire Heisman winning quarterback Sam Bradford and Lions head coach Jim Schwartz wanted to make another big splash after nabbing University of Georgia gunslinger Matthew Stafford with the No. 1 overall pick in 2009.
They did just that as the first domino fell as expected to St. Louis and they were able to pick their guy—a 6-4, 307 pound defensive lineman who had just won AP College Player of the Year, was a unanimous All-American and voted as the Bronko Nagurski and Chuck Bednarik awards recipient.
While Sunday will mark only his second career NFL game against the Washington Redskins, he isn’t an unfamiliar face to seven guys on the offensive side of the pigskin that have some sort of connection to Suh from college ball days.
Who are they?
–Running back Roy Helu Jr. and tight end Niles Paul. The two 2011 NFL draft picks were college teammates of Suh at the University of Nebraska from 2007-2009. Together, the three lead the team in rushing, receiving and tackles in 2009.
–Tight end Fred Davis. Davis played collegiality at the University of Southern California (USC) and in the fall of 2006, his Trojans hosted the Cornhuskers in a battle of the unbeaten. Davis recorded two catches on the day for 17 yards. While Suh was unable to take him down, they did cross paths.
–Right tackle Tyler Polumbus. Long before the seismic NCAA conference shift, Nebraska and the University of Colorado (Polumbus’ alma mater) were rivals in the Big 12 when the numbers actually added up (Big 12 has 10, Big 10 has 12…cruel joke). In 2006 and 2007, the two went against one another with each picking up a victory.
–Left tackle Trent Williams. Not only were the two classmates in the 2010 draft, they were rivals for four seasons when No. 71 was at the University of Oklahoma. Williams, who started as a true freshman, could see a lot of Suh again on Sunday.
–Running back Alfred Morris. In his first season as Florida Atlantic’s primary back, Morris faced a steep task of facing Suh and Co. (ranked in the top 25 at the time) in Lincoln. Morris’ Owls ended up getting throttled 49-3, but he survived a few Suh tackles and described what it was like facing him then.“It was the first game I started,” Morris said. “It was fun, but I realized he was strong. I remember running an inside trap play and he grabbed me and yanked me and I was like ‘whoa he’s going to snatch it away from me’, but he really is that strong. Next time it happened I was able to get away from him.
“He’s definitely a guy to be respected and a force to be reckon with. He’s a great pass rusher and a run defense so you have to be aware of where he’s at on the field at all times.”
–Quarterback Robert Griffin III. If you’ve seen any of the YouTube highlights from Griffin III’s freshman season at the University of Baylor (I’m urging you to if you haven’t, they are the definition of must-see) then you know that his rookie season was nothing new. In the latter stages of the 2008 season, Griffin III’s Bears took on Suh’s Cornhuskers.
While Suh registered a few tackles on quarterback keepers, he failed to record any sacks. That doesn’t mean that Griffin III thinks he’s untouchable.
“I played against him one year at Nebraska,” Griffin III said at his weekly press conference. “Great player, plays with a motor, plays with a lot of aggression. I’ve got to trust my guys up front to go block him.”
Well you’ve got the intel to help.
Tags: Alfred Morris, Fred Davis, Niles Paul, Robert Griffin III, Roy Helu Jr., trent williams, tyler polumbus
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