Lincoln - Nebraska senior defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has been named the 2009 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, the conference office announced on Tuesday morning. Suh also captured Big 12 Defensive Lineman-of-the-Year honors.
The Big 12 Conference announced all of its major award winners and all-conference selections on Tuesday morning. The individual award winners and all-conference teams were selected by a vote of the league's 12 head coaches.
Suh was chosen in July as the preseason choice as Big 12 Defensive Player-of-the-Year and the postseason hardware comes as no surprise after Suh's dominant senior season. The 6-4, 300-pounder leads Nebraska with 70 total tackles, including 7.5 sacks and 16 tackles for loss. He also paces the team with 10 pass breakups, three blocked kicks and 24 quarterback hurries, while adding his fourth career interception.
A native of Portland, Ore., Suh is also a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Outland Trophy, the Rotary Lombardi Award, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the Lott Trophy. The winners of each of those awards will be announced next week.
Suh is the second Nebraska player to win Big 12 Defensive Player-of-the-Year honors, joining Grant Wistrom who won the award in the first two years of the conference (1996, 1997). Suh is also Nebraska's second winner of the Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year in the past four seasons, joining Adam Carriker who won the award in 2006. Suh is just the second player in league history to win the Defensive Player of the Year and Defensive Lineman of the Year award in the same season (Brian Orakpo-Texas, 2008).
Suh also headlines four Huskers named to the All-Big 12 first team defense, as he joined Texas quarterback Colt McCoy as the only unanimous selections to the all-conference team. Other Huskers who earned first-team All-Big 12 honors included fellow defensive tackle Jared Crick, junior cornerback Prince Amukamara and senior safety Larry Asante.
Nebraska's four first-team picks tied Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State for most first-team All-Big 12 picks.
Crick leads Nebraska with nine sacks and has 14 tackles for loss, while posting 67 total tackles. He is the first sophomore to earn first-team all-conference honors for Nebraska since tight end Matt Herian and offensive lineman Richie Incognito in 2003.
Amukmara ranks among the Big 12 leaders in passes defended with 10 breakups and four interceptions, helping Nebraska rank third nationally in pass efficiency defense. Asante is tied for the team lead in tackles with 70 tackles, including seven games with at least six tackles. He also has a pair of interceptions in his senior season.
In addition to the four first-team picks, Nebraska had three players chosen to the All-Big 12 Second Team and another eight players receive honorable-mention accolades.
The second-team picks included junior I-back Roy Helu Jr., who has rushed for 1,111 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, while averaging a Big 12-best 5.4 yards per carry. Place-kicker Alex Henery has continued his stellar special teams work, hitting 16-of-20 field goals this fall, with just one miss inside 50 yards. Linebacker Phillip Dillard has been among Nebraska's steadiest players since the start of conference play. Dillard is tied for the team lead with 70 tackles and has eight or more tackles in five of the past seven games.
Henery was also chosen to the honorable-mention list as a punter and was joined on that list by center Jacob Hickman, tight end Mike McNeill and wide receiver Niles Paul on offense, as well as defensive backs Dejon Gomes, Eric Hagg and Matt O'Hanlon and defensive end Barry Turner.