OMAHA, Neb. - Thursday's Outland Trophy award ceremony at the Omaha Downtown Doubletree Hotel was a special event.
A packed house of 700 people witnessed Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh officially accept his Outland Trophy, joining Husker greats like Dave Rimington, Rich Glover and Dean Steinkuhler in the history books. Suh is the eighth different NU player to win the Outland, and Nebraska currently leads the NCAA with nine total winners.
An emotional Suh took the stand to accept his trophy as NU head coach Bo Pelini led the crowd with the popular "Suhhhhhh" chant across the room.
"I'm not a very emotional person ... but for some reason it hit me when we watched that video that this is the last time I'll be in Nebraska as a Cornhusker," Suh said. "I'm definitely going to miss it, and that great chant you guys do. It means a lot. It's tremendous how far I've come these last five years."
Suh then directed his attention towards defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Carl Pelini. As Suh turned towards Pelini, he broke down in tears thinking about the relationship he's had with him over the last two seasons.
"It means a lot just that you coached me and just the small talk we had in your office with just me and you with the door closed being man to man, it means a lot," Suh said as he choked up.
As Carl Pelini talked about Suh on Thursday night, he had some high words of praise to describe his All-American lineman to the crowd.
"He had that unique ability that every time he took the practice field he was locked in and ready to go to work," Carl Pelini said. "He made himself the player he is today. Everybody wants to talk about his talent, because he does have great talent, but he has great character and a great work ethic and he would never have the success he had without those attributes as well."
Bo Pelini credited Suh on Thursday for staying in school for his senior season. Pelini said what made Suh special was he understood that no matter how good he was, he still could be better.
Pelini feels like Suh bought into his message and made the most out of his time in Lincoln.
"I had talked to him and told him how much more is out there for you," Pelini said. "No matter how good you are and how much better you get, you can go play in the NFL for 10 years and you still will not have reached your peak. He really bought into it and took everything to heart these great coaches sitting up there had to say on a daily basis and stayed hungry.
"He stayed humble, his character always showed through, his team attitude always showed through and I believe he represented the University of Nebraska in a tremendous fashion. I can't be more proud of one person than I am of him. I think he not only represented the linemen out there, but all of the great players at the University of Nebraska."
Joining Suh and the Pelini brothers at the head table on Thursday from NU were secondary coach Marvin Sanders and linebackers coach Mike Ekeler.
Ekeler and Sanders were in attendance to introduce linebacker Phillip Dillard and safety Matt O'Hanlon, who were the recipients of the Novak and Fischer awards. The Novak award is given to the player who exemplifies courage, while the Fischer award is given to a native Nebraskan that best represents the spirit of what Husker football is all about.