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December 12, 2009What began as a seemingly impossible fantasy nearly became an unbelievable reality for Ndamukong Suh on Saturday night.
With 815 points and 161 first-place votes, Nebraska's senior defensive tackle finished fourth in the 2009 Heisman Trophy voting, falling short of making college football history by becoming the first true defensive tackle to ever win the award.
Alabama running back Mark Ingram (1,304 points) was named the winner, while Stanford running back Toby Gerhart (1,276) finished second and Texas quarterback Colt McCoy (1,145) took third. The winner was announced at the 2009 Heisman Trophy Presentation in New York City. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow placed fifth behind Suh.
The voting was the closest in the 75-year history of the award.
There have been other defensive players to be invited to the trophy presentation as finalists for the award, but only Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson has ever actually won the Heisman. However, a large part of Woodson's selection was due to his play as a receiver and punt returner.
Suh, on the other hand, played just one snap away from the defensive line this season when he lined up at fullback during the Big 12 Championship.
He was the first defensive lineman to be invited to the New York City since Miami's Warren Sapp in '94, and the first to finish in the top-5 in voting since Washington's Steve Emtman in '91.
Even in one of the least glamorous defensive positions, Suh had an undeniable impact in every game he played as a defensive tackle. His 83 tackles led the team for the second year in a row, and he added 23 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, 10 pass breakups and three blocked kicks.
Had he won, Suh would have joined NU greats Johnny Rodgers (1972), Mike Rozier ('83) and Eric Crouch ('01) as the only Huskers to win a Heisman Trophy.
Despite falling short Saturday night, the Portland, Ore., native has already taken home a slew of this post-season. He's also won the Rotary Lombardi Award as college football's top lineman, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the country's best defensive player, the Outland Trophy for the nation's most outstanding interior lineman and the Chuck Bednarik Award for the defensive player of the year.
Though Saturday night obviously would have been the ultimate achievement for any collegiate player, the award tour isn't over yet for Suh. On Sunday he'll be attending the Lott Trophy presentation in Newport Beach, Calif. The Lott Trophy is the first trophy to give equal weight to personal character as well as athletic performance from a defensive college player.