By JASON MCDANIEL For the Chronicle
Learn to pronounce that name now. If you’re still stuck on the N-d in Ndamukong Suh by April, your Mel Kiper-loving buddies will laugh at you.
Nebraska’s defensive tackle made it 2-for-2 in national award wins this week when he was named the 2009 Rotary Lombardi Award winner Wednesday at a ceremony in Houston.
Even then, master of ceremonies John Granato admitted his fear of Suh’s first name, pointing out that the other finalists seemed to prefer the easier route of calling him Mr. Suh.
“It’s tough,” Suh said. “You’ve got to get that first pronunciation from myself or somebody in my family who knows how to say it, and then from there it’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it.
“You’ve got to let it roll off your tongue a couple times.”
Suh won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Monday. He also was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and is the consensus No. 1 prospect for the 2010 NFL draft on April 22.
The 6-4, 300-pound senior beat out Lombardi finalists Jerry Hughes (TCU), who played at Fort Bend Austin, Gerald McCoy (Oklahoma) and Terrence Cody (Alabama) for the award, which is given to college football’s top lineman.
Just the beginning
Suh isn’t done with the award season. He’s a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, the Walter Camp Award, the Lott Trophy, the Chuck Bednarik Award and the Outland Trophy.
The Portland, Ore., native is the fifth player from Nebraska to win the Lombardi Award, joining Rich Glover (1972), Dave Rimington (1982), Dean Steinkuhler (1983) and Grant Wistrom (1997).
“It’s total excitement, a total surprise,” Suh said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’m just going to soak it all in.
“I never had any idea I was going to win this award, and in my eyes this is very huge, especially with my position.”
Suh recorded 82 tackles in 2009, including 23 for loss, 12 sacks and 26 quarterback hurries.
He likely secured the Lombardi Award, and many others, with 4 1/2 sacks and a career-high 12 tackles in a 13-12 loss to Texas in the Big 12 Championship Game.
“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,” Suh said.
“I don’t know exactly how much it weighed into it; maybe a little bit, maybe a lot.”
The voters for the Rotary Lombardi Award consist of all the head coaches of NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams, all former winners and finalists of the award and selected members of the media.
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