NEW YORK (AP) — Quarterbacks dominate games. Running backs carry their teams. Wide receivers almost single-handedly pull off a victory.
Defensive tackles? They never get talked about that way.
Unless they're Ndamukong Suh. His 12 tackles and 4½ sacks when Nebraska nearly stunned Texas in the Big 12 title game proved that the big guy in the middle can be just as electrifying as the skill position players.
"We changed that game totally," Suh told The Associated Press on Tuesday, two days before he's expected to be one of the top picks in the NFL draft. "The offense could not pass the ball or run the ball."
Suh's life the past few months has seemed more like that of a quarterback than a defensive tackle. He was the first defensive player to be a Heisman Trophy finalist since 1997, and he received more points than any fourth-place finisher in the 75-year history of the award.
He then became the first defensive player voted The Associated Press College Football Player of the Year since the award began in 1998.
He's gone on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," and on Tuesday he was scurrying around New York from one promotional event to another.
"I want to be a guy that sets a trend that big guys can do the same as skill guys," Suh said while making an appearance for Subway with one of those skill guys, Clemson's C. J. Spiller.
David Schwab, who helps match companies with celebrities as managing director of Octagon First Call, said Suh is an example of the new marketing opportunities for non-quarterbacks. The glamour guys are still the biggest draw, but they can be selective about picking a few long-terms deals.
In the age of the 24-hour news cycle and social media, Schwab said, more people have heard of those guys in the trenches.
"Everyone now has the ability to be a celebrity," he said.
They just need to have the right personality and communication skills. Suh is certainly the type companies love to attach themselves to. He has his degree in construction management engineering and recently announced a $2.6 million donation to his alma mater.
Oh, and he's pretty good on the field, too. At 6-foot-4, 307 pounds, he's part of a new wave of tackles just as agile as players at other positions. Sure, pass-rushing end might seem like the more glamorous position on the line, but Suh notes that when the guy in the middle can dominate, the offense can't run to one side to avoid a star DE.
"(We're) normal guys that don't have that glitz and glamour already on him just because he plays a skill position," Suh said. "Definitely I think fans can latch onto that."