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MailTribune.com
  • COLLEGE FOOTBALL

    Suh's roots trace back to Ashland, SOU

  • That the state of Oregon can lay claim to a Heisman Trophy finalist for only the third time in the storied history of the college football award is due in large part to the diligence of recruiters from Southern Oregon University.
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  • That the state of Oregon can lay claim to a Heisman Trophy finalist for only the third time in the storied history of the college football award is due in large part to the diligence of recruiters from Southern Oregon University.
    The former Bernadette Lennon is the mother of Ndamukong Suh, the Nebraska defensive lineman, and she graduated from SOU in the late 1970s.
    Lennon grew up in Spanish Town, Jamaica, living with her grandparents while her mother and father worked toward a better life for the family in England. When she was 15, Lennon joined her parents and moved to Boston.
    One summer after that, she enrolled in a college prep program in the mid-1970s. The administrator of that program happened to be a professor at a small Oregon college interested in diversifying the student base.
    Without much more than the confidence to strike out on her own, Lennon moved alone across the country to Ashland, aiming to be a nurse like her mother but instead graduating with a teaching degree in 1977.
    A couple years later, she moved to Portland to seek opportunities as an elementary school teacher — a role she continues in today. She met and married her husband, Michael Suh, in 1982, a year after he was accepted to a trade school in Portland. Originally from Cameroon, Suh had spent the previous two years in Germany studying machinery and also playing semi-pro soccer. He currently designs and repairs heating and cooling systems in Portland.
    The Suhs then became proud parents of a daughter, Ngum, who went on to play soccer at Mississippi State and earned a spot on the Cameroon national team.
    Their son, Ndamukong (pronounced En-DOM-ah-ken), followed in 1987 and, after abandoning soccer and taking up football as a sophomore at Grant High School, has gradually developed into one of the nation's most imposing defensive forces as a nose tackle for Nebraska. The 6-foot-4, 300-pounder is named after his paternal grandfather, who stood 7-3.
    Suh was Oregon's Class 4A defensive player of the year in 2004 and a state champion in the shot put in 2005.
    Should he get his name called today for college football's top honor, Suh would join Terry Baker as the only players from Portland to win the Heisman Trophy. Baker won his award in 1962 as a quarterback for Oregon State.
    Portland's Joey Harrington was a finalist in 2001 as quarterback at Oregon but finished fourth behind winning quarterback Eric Crouch of Nebraska.
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