Ndamukong Suh and Bo Pelini share a special moment Saturday at Nebraska's Spring Game.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

This Suhhh-nami of Support Leaves Seismic Waves for Others to Follow

By NU Athletic Communications

Randy York's N-sider

To "Respond to Randy" click on the link below and choose "Randy York's N-Sider" under "Area of Interest" on the new screen. Please include your name and city/town/state and share your thoughts on Ndamukong Suh's $2.6 million donation to the University of Nebraska.

Now who exactly was it that said Nebraska has certain built-in recruiting disadvantages because we don't have any oceans, any beaches or any mountains?

Raise your hand if you said Tom Osborne. He's the one who made that observation long before he became a Hall-of-Fame football coach.

Osborne, of course, found innovative ways to counteract those disadvantages over 25 years, but he's never seen one better than what Ndamukong Suh helped Nebraska pull off on Saturday.

In front of nearly 78,000 fans at Memorial Stadium, the Spring Game stopped for the first timeout and the Cornhuskers huddled at midfield - coaches, staff, players and university and athletic administrators to watch and hear one of the loudest and most appreciative Suhhhhhhhhh-lutes ever.

Attention pointed to Nebraska's big screens where Suh calmly and confidently announced a $2.6 million donation to the University of Nebraska - $2 million to Nebraska Athletics for the strength and conditioning program that transformed him to elite status and $600,000 to the UNL College of Engineering to endow a scholarship shortly after he graduated with an engineering degree of his own.

Think of the recruiting implications an announcement like that can have across the country.

Announcement Gave Darin Erstad Goosebumps

"I've always told our players it's not what Nebraska can do for you - it's what you can do for the University of Nebraska," Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini said. "Obviously, Ndamukong takes that to heart. He's a special human being ... a tremendous young man whose life is about to change."

"It gives me goose bumps, it really does. That might be the coolest thing I have ever heard," said Darin Erstad, the former Husker football and baseball star who attended the Spring Game as a fan for the first time after spending 14 years in Major League Baseball.

Erstad wasn't the only one impressed. Former Husker defensive back Jim Pillen, a 7-figure contributor to Nebraska Athletics just like Erstad, was equally moved.

"Some of us may have helped create a ripple when we gave," Pillen said. "But Suh's donation is something bigger, much bigger. I'd call what he gave a Suhhh-nami, and I say that with genuine respect because Ndamukong is one of the most humble Nebraska players I've ever met."

Suhhh-nami. What a metaphor. Whoever reads or hears about Suh's extraordinary benevolence can't help but see how his selfless support can leave seismic waves for others to follow.

Let's rewind the reel to see how and why something so big can happen so fast. We all know that Suh was recruited by another coaching staff, so he had to be re-recruited by Pelini. Once Bo and his brother Carl got Suh's attention, the transformation was on.

Suh became a sponge in the film room, an ironman in the weight room and a force on the field. He went from relative obscurity to national prominence in one fell swoop. Resurrected by the Pelinis and refined and refinished by strength coach James Dobson, Nebraska's most decorated defensive player ever is now revered by an entire nation - not just Husker Nation.

Make no mistake. Suh gave big to the University of Nebraska because he believes the university made him into something bigger than he ever imagined, not the other way around. It was an inspired gift, to be sure.

Cunningham: Pelinis Accelerated Suh's Path to Greatness

Suh "was an okay player" before the Pelinis arrived, Ed Cunningham pointed out Saturday. But after spending two years with those defensive masterminds, Suh is almost certainly one of the top three picks in the NFL Draft.

Cunningham, an insightful ABC college football analyst, was wearing officiating stripes with the full blessing of Osborne and Pelini on Saturday for an experimental national feature on ESPN. He knew exactly what he was getting into and knows all about the Huskers.

Before spending five years in the NFL, Cunningham was a captain and offensive line starter on Washington's 1991 national championship team that gained more than 600 yards in the Huskies' 36-21 win over Nebraska in Lincoln that season.

Cunningham says he's fascinated with the Pelinis' focus on defense and insists it's different than just about anyone else's in college football. He became captivated with Bo's approach while watching a lot of film when Pelini was defensive coordinator for a national championship LSU team.

Suh and Cunningham envision a great Nebraska future.

Suh said he intends to come back to Lincoln often and mentioned at least three times that he expects to see another national championship banner in Memorial Stadium soon.

Nebraska Similar to USC's Rise under Carroll?

Somehow, Cunningham manages to multiply Suh's confidence.

"What I'm seeing at Nebraska right now," Cunningham said, "kind of reminds me of what we saw when Pete Carroll was at USC. There's a national championship mindset, and everyone is buying in."

Especially Suh, who believes just as strongly as his former coaches that Nebraska will be better on defense this fall than the Huskers were late last season when they held Oklahoma to three points, shut down Texas and shut out Arizona.

The surge was led by Suh's Outland Trophy-winning performance. After giving Nebraska his blood and sweat, Big Suh left his tears at the Outland banquet in Omaha last January, then waited until Saturday to open up his heart and soon-to-be large bank account.

Hit the play arrow in the photo above to watch Suh, who sat down with Huskers.com immediately after he taped his big-screen announcement to fans. In that video, he goes into greater detail to describe why Nebraska's strength and conditioning facility was so important in accelerating his performance and why it will benefit others in the future.

At 23, Suh seems to understand that he will make a living by what he gets from the NFL, but he will make a more wonderful and fulfilling life by giving to a university he dearly loves.

Some reminded Suh that the timing of his gift could wait until he had all the details ironed out in what is projected to be a lucrative NFL contract. But this is a digital world, and these are fast-moving times at Nebraska. Suh simply did not want to wait until all the T's were crossed and the I's were dotted before he could experience what he did Saturday. He did not want to be hunkered down in a film room in St. Louis, Detroit, Tampa Bay or somewhere else and miss his own bright and shining moment.

The Pelinis taught him how to improve every day and how to make a surge when it counts. No wonder he ended his junior season on Jan. 1 in Jacksonville and finished his collegiate career on Jan. 1 in San Diego.

New Year's in Miami and Pasadena Are Preferred

With all due respect for both of those accomplishments, Suh wants his former teammates to be spending future New Year's celebrations in Miami, not Jacksonville, and in Pasadena, not San Diego. He's proud that he's helped rebuild the foundation of the Huskers' program. Now he wants Jared Crick and everyone else on the Blackshirts to pave the solid bricks with gold and win the national championships he didn't.

NU's strength and conditioning room is where Suh made his giant leap to greatness. In testing for Sports Science, ESPN deemed Suh to be faster than quarterback Tony Romo, and his effort that measured 3,200 pounds of force was greater than tests for all-pro linebacker Ray Lewis. Suh's tremendous power and explosiveness were showcased in a major feature on Yahoo.com Saturday - a story, we might add, that links to Suh's announcement on Huskers.com.

Extraordinary bursts of speed, power and explosiveness are rare, but Suh feels strongly that they can be replicated by other great athletes who commit themselves to Nebraska and therefore to Dobson, a man Suh considers the best strength and conditioning coach in the country.

Suh believes that so strongly that he's willing to put $2 million of his own money to increase Nebraska's edge in the arms race of science, nutrition, strength and conditioning.

Yes, Ndamukong Suh showed the country his amazing strength, his blazing speed and his brute force, but Saturday he also showed the nation his strength of character.

Passionate Coaches, Academic Rigor and More

Suh gave because it was the right thing to do. He gave because he came to Nebraska with strong family values and discovered - through passionate coaches, academic rigor, life skill development and role model leadership - that the world is much bigger than he is, was or ever will be.

He thought about the lessons he learned, the teammates who inspired him, the man he became and "the grace of God" that put him in Lincoln at an historically significant time. Just when he thought the program could crumble, he saw it come back to life, and he wants it going well beyond where it is now.

Suh believes that Nebraska has never been a school that follows a trend, but rather creates a trend for others to follow. The Pelinis taught him that at the same time they taught him to focus on the process and to compete hard every day to maximize his gifted athleticism.

That's exactly what he did, and that's why there's a new standard by which all future Nebraska recruits will be measured.

Who needs an ocean, a beach or a mountain when you can end up with a man like Suh and others who want to be just like him?

Respond to Randy

Voices from Husker Nation

Ndamukong Suh is the cornerstone of the Big Red foundation being rebuilt by Dr. Tom with the help of the Pelini brothers. I remember Suh actually throwing his name in to the NFL draft hat at the end of his sophomore year at Nebraska. Had Dr. Tom not made his decision to change head coaches when he did, who knows where the famed Husker program would be today? What Dr. Tom recognized during Bo Pelini's one-game stint as interim head coach reverberated throughout the entire Husker Nation. We all knew the coach we wanted at the helm, and Dr. Tom made it happen. Yes, Suh represents all that is good about college football, but Dr. Tom set the stage and the Pelinis & their staff finished the decorations. Suh said it was "by the grace of God" that he ended up in Lincoln, Nebraska. That's true, and by that same grace, we have Dr. Tom and the Pelinis! All is well!  Bradley Peterson, Littleton, Colorado

Great article. As a K-State fan I have to say I was relieved to see Mr. Suh graduate, but he truly is the gift that keeps on giving for Nebraska. Congratulations on having such a stellar person still putting it on the line for NU. If only he could somehow follow Will Shields and become a Chief. There's no way he'll be available at #5, but I can still dream. Doug Fink, Overland Park, Kansas

We watched the video of Suh testing on the Sports Science show and can't help but be astonished - reaching 13 1/2 miles an hour within his first six yards at 300 pounds! Certain athletes just defy physics. Michael Jordon did, and so does Suh. Our favorite Nebraska player has always been Mike Brown because he brought such heart with his athleticism and seemed to be in on almost every play. Suh belongs in the same category because of his heart and unmatched physical abilities. Watching that video helped us understand why that massive weight room in the Osborne Athletic Complex may be the most important part of Nebraska's determination to be the most physical team in the country again. Suh knows anyone can build an incredible weight room. It's the work ethic, the leadership, the heart and staying ahead of everyone else's knowledge that separates the pack. That takes time, research and money, so Suh gave to a good cause - one that put him in New York among the Heisman finalists and sends him there again this week as one of the top NFL Draft prospects. Wherever he goes, no one will follow him like Husker fans will. Steve and Cindy Sorum, Lincoln, Nebraska

What an inspiring story for so many Nebraskans, Husker fans and recruits both nationwide and worldwide. That's what sets Nebraska apart from the rest. Taking young student-athletes and developing them mentally, physically, and yes, spiritually. One can't tell me that Ndamukong wasn't moved emotionally and spiritually to pledge that much money to help other student-athletes and the university he loves. There is NO place like Nebraska! Go Big Red! Brad Loseke, Beaverton, Oregon

Suh is already establishing himself as a role model, a student graduate, football athlete and contributor to the Nebraska program! We are blessed to have someone like him give back to the community that supported him through his college career. Who knows? Not only may he be a future Pro Football Hall of Famer, but possibly earn a lifetime achievement award. You cannot get any better than that! Brian Chrastil, Irvine, California

This once again shows the true character of Ndamukong Suh. In a time where everyone is out to get all they can get for themselves, he gives back to the program that has been such a big part of his success. But he is not expected to, and no one would fault him for banking all he can for his future. He is an exceptional man of character and knows the value of loyalty and commitment. Nebraska has had numerous players come through our program and walk out as proud, strong men. Just like with the defense, Suh has raised the bar for all who follow him on what type of man they will become. Give credit to the program, but also understand that it's what he has taken away from the program that has made his star shine so brightly. Richard Houlden, Newport News, Virginia

I have never seen a Nebraska player as generous as Ndamukong Suh. I have "Suh-ed" him and cheered him for a long time, and I was proud to be a part of those other "Suh-ers" at Memorial Stadium Saturday. Suh was so generous, and Nebraska has benefited greatly from his performance. We will definitely benefit from his donation. I'm going to miss Suh very much this season. But he left a legacy. And he left an example for everyone. For his teammates, he showed them that determination and hard work were the only ways to prosper. For the fans, he showed them that character and a deep, abiding faith are all you need to get through life. I will never forget Suh, and every time I look at his name on the wall, I'll think of the man named Suh, and how he, with the help of the Pelini brothers, brought Nebraska football back to life! Susanna Hall, Lincoln, Nebraska

I'm an Oregon State fan and was disappointed that Ndamukong Suh decided to become a Cornhusker rather than a Beaver, but I must say he selected the right school for him. His decision has become a storybook kind of story, and there is no doubt in my mind that he benefitted tremendously from Nebraska's state-of-the-art approach under a Hall-of-Fame athletic director. If Tom Osborne had not returned as AD, that would not have been the case. I'm happy for Suh because he's a bright young man who looks well beyond himself, and I have to admit, I'm buying into what Nebraska tradition is all about. I'm fairly certain that Suh's star is going to shine down and influence a lot of other recruits who want be just like him and do what he's just done. Good luck against Washington this fall. They have the best quarterback in the country. It won't be easy there. That will be a great challenge for those Blackshirts. Greg Hansen, Portland, Oregon

I believe it would be most fitting and a tribute to Mr. Suh if in the future, when a defensive lineman, linebacker or d-back sacks a quarterback or crunches an opposing back for a big loss, the  Suuuuuuuhhhhhhh call is sounded. Jack Lewis, Great Falls, Montana

I really liked the Suh article. It flows like a mountain stream with perspective from many pebbles in the brook. For me, Suh's announcement and the shared ceremony on the field were the highlights of Saturday afternoon and well worth the trip. Sharon Perry, Omaha, Nebraska 






More News Sponsor - First National Bank


Tickets Sponsor - StubHub