Players wanted to be like him. They wanted to be him. His style, his strength - it was everything most all of them wanted to do.
But let's face it, you don't become the most decorated defensive tackle in college football history and then go on to lead every defensive tackle in the entire NFL in sacks, by doing things just like everyone else.
Being Suh isn't as easy as one might think.
Duncanville, Texas defensive tackle Jamaal Fears has already nipped that in the bud as he looks at Suh's game and his own, and he spots some obvious differences. But not just what you see in regard to the comparisons of an NFL All-Pro versus a prep player. But just in how Fears approaches the game. "The guy has strength and he's really aggressive. But I like using my hands more and being more of a technical guy than I think he is," Fears said. "I like shooting my hands, looking through the offensive lineman to the backfield and then just using a lot of technique to beat the guy across from me."
If there is one defensive lineman Fears does watch, it's Arizona Cardinal DT, Darnell Dockett, a seventh-year pro out of Florida State. "I love his style. I love how he uses his hands. I just love everything about how that guy plays," Fears said of Dockett, who notched 52 tackles this last season, five of which were sacks.
Fears spent much of his time last year playing behind Terrell Brooks, a 6-4, 290 lbs. DT for the Panthers, as well as Zach Pemberton, who notched 30 tackles on the season, while Brooks led the interior with 43. Fears said that he could line up where either did, because of his strong technique. "Sometimes I will be on the three. Sometimes I am in the one. I like to consider myself a dual-threat at DT," he said. "I like to be able to stay solid against the run or try and split the double team to get up the field if that's what they need me to do. I'd like to think that I can do a little bit of everything."
Despite not being a starter last year, Fears has gotten plenty of letters voicing interest, a huge range of schools sending him stuff from Duke to Notre Dame, Texas A&M to Oklahoma, Nebraska to LSU, and so on. Thus far Fears said the Aggies are easily the most intense with what interest they have shown so far. "I went to a junior day of theirs last week, and right now they definitely seem like the most serious of the teams. But I got invited to Oklahoma's junior day, and LSU and Nebraska have been sending me a lot of letters."
While Fears said that isn't looking to be like Suh, he isn't losing sight of the fact that the staff at Nebraska, now with guys like Suh as well as Glen Dorsey at LSU when Bo Pelini was the defensive coordinator with the Tigers - these guys know something about developing the big boys in the middle. "I like how they play defense. They are aggressive, and I haven't seen much of them, but Nebraska is definitely known more for their defense than their offense," he said.
Right now Fears said that he's wide open as far as junior days he'll visit. As he gets invitations he said he'd like to be able to go see whoever is interested at this point. But Fears is already set about his criteria, and the big one is location.
But for this Texas native, it's probably not quite how you think.
"I want to get out. I just want to get out and do my own thing and just get far, far away," he said. "And I'm sick of the heat down here. I want to go some place it gets cold."
In addition to that Fears said the size of the school is important, obviously the coaching staff, the facilities and finally, a chance to play right away. But that is then and this is now, and the 6-2, 290 lbs. DT is looking on continuing his development of a technique which he feels will be ever-evolving. "You are never going to be so good you don't have to work on things. There are always things you can get better at," he said. "I always study other players. I'm always looking to improve what I do. And then hopefully, I can help my team take it to the next level this season. That's a big thing for me."
Fears said he currently has a GPA around 3.5