Suess ready for crack at NU

2013-09-19T14:00:00Z 2013-09-19T17:27:05Z Suess ready for crack at NUBy Dylan Guenther / dguenther@columbustelegram.com Columbus Telegram

For Taylor Suess, it will be a homecoming of sorts when he travels to Memorial Stadium Saturday.

But don't count him among those hoping for a bounce-back Husker victory.

Suess, a former Scotus Central Catholic standout in both football and track and field, grew up a Husker fan living in Columbus.

"I was a pretty big Husker fan growing up -- kind of typical of the Nebraska boy growing up," he said.

However, after graduating from Scotus in 2009, Suess went off to play for South Dakota State, the Huskers' opponent this Saturday. The Jackrabbits enter Saturday's game ranked sixth in the FCS with a 3-0 record.

"After my trip to Brookings, I really fell in love with SDSU and the Brookings area," Suess said. "It's been kind of a perfect match ever since. The coaching staff at SDSU really reminds me of the staff at Scotus. They keep academics first, and they're really interested in you as a person. They don't just look at you as a means to an end. Obviously, they want you to be the best football player that you can be, but they're more focused on making you the best man you can be."

The 6-foot-3, 295-pound senior is in his second year starting on the Jackrabbit offensive line. Suess came in his freshman year as a defensive lineman before being moved to offensive tackle. Then came the move to guard, and finally, Suess took over as the starting center this season.

"I've kind of played every position on the offensive line, which really helps in understanding the whole scheme and everything," he said. "It's definitely a whole different ballgame making all the calls (as a center) and having to set up the offense with what defense we're running against. It's definitely different, but I've enjoyed the added responsibility."

Throughout his time in the starting lineup, Suess has helped his running back put up impressive numbers. Zach Zenner led the FCS a year ago in rushing with 2,044 yards while adding 13 touchdowns. Through three games this year, Zenner has racked up a nation-leading 540 yards and eight scores -- that's 180 yards per game, including a 295-yard, three-touchdown performance against North Dakota in Week 2.

"He really makes our offensive line look good," Suess said of Zenner. "He makes some good cuts, and he's really an awesome athlete and an awesome guy in general. It was an honor to be blocking for the guy that ended up leading the FCS in rushing last year."

This game figures to be special for more than just Suess, as 13 Nebraska natives are on the SDSU roster -- eight are on the two-deep depth chart. However, Suess insists they haven't circled this weekend's game on the calendar.

"One of our senior goals that we set out this year was to take every week 1-0 and every play 1-0," he said. "We've done a good job not circling any matches or anything. It's been more of a case of taking it week by week. Our whole fall camp, we talked about how we were just focused on that first game against Butler. We're just trying to look at this as just another game -- we're not trying to hype it up any more than the first three games we've played."

SDSU has some recent history with the Huskers. The Jackrabbits fell to NU 17-3 in 2010 in what was Suess' first trip on the team's traveling roster. He was a redshirt freshman at the time.

"I was one of the last additions to the traveling roster, and since we played them close, the third string guard -- or whatever I was back then -- I didn't quite get the chance to see the field," he said.

SDSU has proven its ability to run the football, something Nebraska has proven to be susceptible to. If the Jackrabbits can instill their will in the run game, it could be a long day for the Huskers.

"We just want to play our game. We're not trying to throw any gimmicks or anything out there," he said. "We always talk about pounding the rock -- sometimes it might not go right in the first or second quarter, but if you keep pounding away and keep doing what you know, things will work out in the end. What we've been stressing this week is playing good, fundamental football.

"If we play our game with better fundamentals, we'll have ourselves in a real good position and have an opportunity to win the game."

A mechanical engineer major, Suess is looking to enter grad school and finish up some work at a couple internships when his playing days are through.

But before that happens, look for big No. 59 on Saturday -- he'll be the one opening holes against a young NU front seven.

Copyright 2015 Columbus Telegram. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Marketplace