Offensive coordinators in the Big XII got the message today loud and clear: they'll need to focus on keeping Runaround Suh away from their quarterback in 2009. With apologies to Dion, Husker defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh announced today that he'll return to the Huskers for his senior season.
It's not really a surprise, as Suh had said all along he probably was coming back. But there was always that little opening, and it's tough for a college student to turn down millions of dollars from the NFL.
Was it the right move for Suh? Only he can judge for sure. Suh blossomed as the season progressed under the tutelage of the Pelini brothers, and it's not hard to imagine that improvement continuing with another season. Certainly LSU's Glenn Dorsey got value out of staying for a senior season with Pelini. If he turns late first round/early second round money into early first round draft money, it'll still be money ahead for Suh.
Looking ahead to 2009, that means the Huskers will have three returning starters on the defensive line: Suh, Barry Turner (expected to get a medical redshirt), and Pierre Allen. Add in Phillip Dillard at linebacker, and Larry Asante, Rickey Thenarse, Anthony West, and Anthony Blue, and depending on how you count, you've got seven or eight returning starters off a defense that, believe it or not, ended up second in the Big XII in total defense. (#55 nationally.)
After the BCS title game, the World-Herald's Tom Shatel noted that a great defense might be the key to stopping all the high-powered offenses in the Big XII. Well, with the return of Suh, Nebraska might be putting themselves in just that position. To be sure, Nebraska is going to need to answer quite a few questions on offense this spring and fall. But defensively, this group looks like it might be an effective counter to what the rest of the Big XII is bringing.