Suggs Has One More Goal To Accomplish

Should I say or should I go? For the last several weeks, not a day has passed by without Terrell Suggs asking himself that burning question. The defensive end still doesn't know if he's turning pro or not, but when mentioning his one unfulfilled goal, fans can only wonder if the Holiday Bowl won't be his last game in the maroon and gold after all.

Even after winning three awards this week, the junior lists the Pac-10 championship game as the most important achievement of them all. "The Rose Bowl. That's the biggest one, and that's why I'm still deciding on what to do here. I really want to play in the Rose Bowl, and I think our team deserves the opportunity. I'm really thinking hard about that." With the slew of post season accolades, Suggs says that the decision on whether to forgo his senior season or not hasn't suddenly become an easier choice. "The awards don't make the decision easier or harder. Those awards are great, but as long as my team gets the recognition too…those are the guys that called me at 5 A.M., making sure that I was coming to lift and run with them." Much has been written about the defensive end's dedication to the off-season conditioning program, and there's no doubt in his mind that his performance in the weight room and on the practice field is directly correlated to his performance during ASU's success in 2002. "I really didn't like doing it (conditioning) but coach House (Joe Kenn) and his staff are the best thing that ever happened to me. I got to give thanks to them, and they're a big part of the awards too."

Not many Fourtane 500 CEO's have traveled as much as Suggs did the last few days. While he's still trying to recover from his cross country trips, he wouldn't trade it for the world. "I'm glad to be back. It was a crazy week. All the hotels, the random searches…it's funny how it's random because I got picked every single time at the airport (smile). It was worth it. I had fun with family, and it was a great experience." The junior lists the Lombardi award at the very top of his encounters this week. Not only because of the award's magnitude, but also due to the fact that he got to meet former U.S. President George Bush, whom he unsuccessfully invited to a post ceremony outing. "We were gonna go to the club, but he just went to the VIP room and got it crackin', and I just went to the room and laid down. He's a good guy. I was there shivering next to the former president. I was also shy, and actually at a loss for words for once in my life." Suggs considers himself a "Jeans, T-Shirt, and Timberlands (shoes) type of guy." Thus, when it came time to slip into the tuxedos and suits that are customary in the various award presentations, the junior elicited the help of those around him. "I really don't wear ties. Coach Koetter tied my tie once, and my girlfriend did it the other time (smile)."

Not only does Suggs come back to the rigors of pre-bowl practices, but he also has some academic ground to gain during finals week. "I got no studies done. I came in yesterday (Friday), and spent five hours in the study hall. It was pretty bad; I'm catching up to the studies right now. My mom is also on me on that. We are gonna get this done." And once the academic part of his year concludes, his Football segment starts up again. The defensive end is psyched up to play the Wildcats, and spending time on the award circuit with their star cornerback Terrence Newman, has made for some early trash talk. "It's a great opportunity to play a high caliber team. They're a lot better than Purdue (who plays in the Sun Bowl), and we want to spar with the best of them. Terrence Newman and I hung out a lot. I told him that if you get tangled with my guy (receiver Shaun McDonald) it might be 7 of them (i.e. touchdown). It's just competition, and we're gonna have a lot of fun."

Fresh of this whirlwind of honors, it's hard for Suggs to put everything in perspective yet. "I haven't really thought what all those awards mean to me. But as far as my team, when you become a family on and off the field, I know I owe a lot to my team. Especially to the guy on the other side of the line Jimmy Verdon. He takes up two guys, so I can just go against one tackle. That's how I really got the 22 sacks. I want to make sure that I get his name out there, and show him my appreciation." Nevertheless, when asked what the most meaningful award this season was, he simply answers: "The most meaningful award would be to win the Holiday Bowl." With his recent string of wins, he just might be able to notch another accolade. And this one would be his favorite kind – an achievement that his whole team can enjoy too.

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