Making predictions is a notoriously tricky art.
As we in WW's newsroom strode confidently into 2009, we dreamed this would be the year for salary increases and the rebirth of print newspapers. More seriously, we also readied ourselves for the start of a Trail Blazers dynasty with the help of a healthy Greg Oden, and a new day in City Hall with the inauguration of Mayor Sam Adams.
On to what we think will happen in 2010.
We're undaunted by the challenge of trying to predict who and what is likely to pop around these parts next year. In fact, we embrace it as close as a fifth of Jack at 11:59 pm on Dec. 31.
So in the spirit of the new year, we've tapped our beats by combing our phone lists and consulting our Ouija boards to come up with these 14 people and trends we're convinced you must know when the new decade begins on Jan. 1, 2010.
PHILLIP: "I would choose 2010 to do great things." IMAGE: Courtesy of Roberta Phillip
Mover And Shaker
Roberta Phillip's name surfaced in local political circles in September when the 33-year-old Eliot resident announced she would seek the seat of departing Sen. Margaret Carter (D-North/Northeast Portland).
Phillip's out-of-the-blue entrance into the contest earned her accolades from political veterans like former Sen. Avel Gordly, and later Carter herself.
"She's quite an intelligent young woman," Carter says. But almost as quickly as Phillip had appeared, the political unknown vanished again. The Multnomah County Democratic Party, which vetted the candidates list for consideration by county commissioners, decided Phillip didn't meet the one-year residency requirement for her district. (Chip Shields eventually won the Senate seat.)
It was a technicality that led Phillip's name to be removed from the list. But that's hardly a major setback for Phillip, a gutsy self-described "Obama kid" who is laying the groundwork to run for public office again.
Born in Trinidad, Phillip moved to New York City when she was in eighth grade. She came to Portland in 2003 to attend Lewis & Clark Law School, after spending several years teaching high-school science and math in Florida.
Since moving to Portland, Phillip has interned for the Oregon Supreme Court, plied her trade with immigration lawyers, and directed policy for the National Crittenton Foundation, a nonprofit that works with at-risk girls. While she starts the new year looking for work, Phillip will join 24 other women in February under the tutelage of the nonprofit Emerge Oregon, which formed in 2008 to help get Democratic women elected to public office in Oregon.
"If I could choose, I would choose 2010 to do great things," Phillip says, remaining tight-lipped about which public office she might seek.
Carmen Caballero Rubio, executive director of Latino Network, is one of the people who recruited Phillip to Emerge Oregon. "She's not someone who's flashy or who talks just to talk," Rubio says. "And people listen to her."
STECKLY: A precocious talent. PHOTO: Sarah Meadows | ART DIRECTION: Ryann Bosetti
With his flaxen hair and lanky frame, Alex Steckly looks like an extra from a Gus Van Sant film.
But this precocious 23-year-old is a rising star instead on the local art scene. His first solo show, held in October at Fourteen30 Contemporary, was remarkable for its style and immaculate technique. With enamels, masking tapes, and perforated screens normally used in car detailing and sign painting, Steckly created intricately patterned compositions and sculptures that featured painstakingly sanded biomorphic forms receding as if in a shadowbox. The works straddled the line between drama and nuance with a finesse rare for any artist, especially one so young.
A Portland native born into a family of artists and designers, Steckly started painting at 5 and decided at 13 that he wanted to become a professional artist. After graduating from Cleveland High School, he enrolled at Pacific Northwest College of Art. But he dropped out after one year, saying now that, "I wasn't interested in the academic side of art. I just wanted to be making it."
He got a big break in 2008, when curator Nathan Howdeshell included two of his paintings in the group show Rad Moon Rising for Deitch Projects, a New York gallery. Part of Deitch's presence at the Art Basel Miami Beach art fair, the show gave Steckly valuable national exposure.
Gallery representation proved elusive, however, until this June, when local gallerista Jeanine Jablonski saw Steckly's sculptures at Stumptown and offered him a show at Fourteen30. Jablonski says Steckly has long been on her radar, but that the sculptures she saw last summer "catapulted" him forward.
"We're already planning the next move for him," she says, "and looking at getting him into larger markets."
In three months he created the pieces for the show, wisely tempering his surface effects with a restrained color palette.
In 2010 he wants to incorporate fluorescent lights into his works. With an abundance of ideas and the backing of an ambitious gallery, this wunderkind is poised to break out.
MELISSA AND BEN UNGER: Kick-ass organizers and siblings, too. IMAGE: vivianjohnson.com
You don't have to grow up on a farm to excel at political "fieldwork," but two of Oregon's top young political operatives grew up tilling Washington County soil together.
Like hoeing a strawberry field or driving a tractor for 14 hours, political fieldwork is repetitive and physically taxing—schlepping door-to-door to register new voters and persuading those who are registered to mark their ballots.
"In political fieldwork, the challenge is working hard. It's not glamorous, and what you find is, a lot of people do it just once," says Ben Unger, the 33-year-old political director for the Oregon Senate Democrats. "Growing up on a farm where you are doing hard labor was good training."
In Oregon Democratic politics, Ben and his 30-year-old sister, Melissa Unger, are two recognized masters to watch in 2010when it comes to organizing, says veteran political consultant Liz Kaufman.
"They are long-hours-type hard workers, as well as salt-of-the-earth humans replete with sincerity, common sense and a great sense of humor, " Kaufman says.
After leaving the Cornelius farm where their father grows wheat, clover and oats, both siblings graduated from the University of Oregon and worked for the Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group. Ben then served as national field director of PIRGs in Chicago. Melissa ran the 100,000-member Oregon Student Association.
Ben returned to Oregon in 2006 and ran the "Yes on Measure 49" campaign, which reversed a previous ballot measure curtailing Oregon's land-use laws. In 2008, he ran upstart Democrat John Kroger's successful campaign for attorney general. And as Kroger's chief of staff, he helped to gain additional resources from the Legislature.
Ben is a Salem neophyte compared to his younger sister. Melissa has worked the Legislature for four sessions already, most recently for Service Employees International Union. But both brother and sister say they much prefer motivating voters than jawboning lawmakers.
BLUBAUGH: His first feature film comes out in 2010. IMAGE: Jim Ollett
For the past decade, as Andy Blubaugh industriously directed five short movies dramatizing things that happened to him, he has remained on the periphery of Portland's radar.
But in 2010, Blubaugh is releasing his first feature: The Adults in the Room, a film that considers the sexual relationship he started at age 15 with a man almost twice his age. This may get him a little more attention.
"It's been exceptionally hot-button in ways that I did not recognize at all," Blubaugh says, sitting in the dining room of his three-bedroom home in Northeast Portland's Grant Park while waiting to hear back from film festivals. "People are either appalled that one could make a film about a man that has sex with a 16-year-old boy and not portray him as a monster, or alternately, they're appalled that I could even suggest that anything is wrong at all."
The movie is even more certain to inflame viewers in a city still paralyzed by eerily similar mayoral misdeeds. "You couldn't have a conversation about my situation without hearing comparisons to Sam Adams," says Blubaugh, now 29. "There's a sex-scandal-shaped hole in our psyche that will constantly be filled."
So Blubaugh incorporated the City Hall uproar into his movie. The Adults in the Room, made for less than $100,000, is both a drama about Blubaugh's affair as well as a documentary in which the director talks with various people about what he should think about the experience. (One of the participants is WW reporter Nigel Jaquiss.) That kind of metatextual experiment chafes against the formula of innocence-lost movies like An Education—no surprise coming from a director who sighs when asked if he identifies as a queer filmmaker.
Blubaugh, who teaches filmmaking to teenagers at the NW Film Center, says the real subject of his film is what makes a person an adult. "My take on it is that I got my heart broken. But if you can find a 16-year-old that didn't get his heart broken, I'd like to meet that person. Actually, I'm not sure that I do want to meet that person."
CLARK: The sustainability movement begins now. IMAGE: Tom Martinez
When Sattie Clark ended her career as a folk-pop musician five years ago, she had no idea she'd be tempted onto a much larger stage.
But after remaking herself as a local leader in sustainable business, Clark is now rubbing elbows with gubernatorial candidates and strongly considering a run for the Metro Council.
"A lot of people in Portland talk about sustainability. What Sattie did was actually make something…happen," says Multnomah County Commissioner Jeff Cogen.
Clark, 44, spent more than a decade touring the West Coast as a singer-songwriter, achieving her greatest fame as frontwoman for the band 17 Reasons Why. After marrying drummer Eric Kaster and giving birth to a son, August, Clark gave up professional music in 2004. By then, Kaster had already started Eleek Inc., building custom-designed lighting at his shop in North Portland.
The couple committed themselves to building a sustainable business, which Clark defines as one that leaves a minimal footprint, practices local sourcing and treats employees well.
"It was the sustainability that really grabbed me," Clark says.
Meeting like-minded local businesses in turn led her to start Voice for Oregon Innovation & Sustainability, a trade group to promote sustainability. Her group has about 300 businesses involved so far, no small feat for a fledgling organization and its organizer. And its soft launch in November had enough cachet to draw Cogen, 2010 Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Bill Bradbury and Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder.
Now Clark is considering vying for Burkholder's Metro seat in 2012—or perhaps sooner if Burkholder wins his 2010 bid for Metro president.
"There are big changes needed to meet the challenge that we face in the world today," Clark says. "It's time for more forward-thinking businesses to get involved."
MUSIC MEN: Deelay Ceelay is reinventing how a local act can gain renown. IMAGE: Courtesy of Deelay Ceelay
Before Deelay Ceelay ever played a show, the local drum-and-video electronic duo had a better aesthetic—and idea—than any band in town.
"I go out to a lot of shows, and 80 percent of the time I'm just watching the drummer," Chris Lael Larson says. "So it was like, yeah, I'd love to watch two drummers. But we had no idea if it would work."
The concept is simple: After years of touring with friend Delaney Kelly in traditional rock bands, Larson decided in 2008 to ditch singing, grab an extra drum kit and put his video production skills (he works full time at Wieden+Kennedy) to good use.
One year later, the band's live performance is more of a dance party than a concert—one long, continuous block of music and images featuring both the band's Ratatat-on-acid instrumentals and remixes of pop hits like T.I.'s "Whatever You Like."
Deelay Ceelay debuted at the 2008 Time-Based Art Festival as a fully realized, double-drumming spectacle, banging away to pre-recorded instrumental tracks and a rousing re-creation of the Beach Boys' "Sloop John B" in front of colorful, rapid-fire video projections. Instead of selling anything after the show, the band gave away copies of its debut EP, Thank You. After a year, Deelay Ceelay still hasn't charged a penny for a tangible copy of its music.
More than any Portland band, Deelay Ceelay is bucking the longstanding industry trend—record an album, then tour behind it—and reinventing the way a local act can gain renown.
After a fall stint—which Larson jokes was a "four-week, four-song tour"—opening for Pyramiddd (the band formerly known as Starfucker), Larson says the group plans to spend most of 2010 readying its debut full-length. After blowing up on the strength of a killer live show, who knows what the duo can do with a whole record of sugary dance beats to its name.
"We're toying with the idea of doing a suggested-donation model," he says. "But we're still in the same place—we just really want people to hear it. There's no monetary value in that."
STAND-UP GUY: Richard Bain. IMAGE: myspace.com/richardbain
Richard Bain is earning notoriety and respect in what is ostensibly one of the most unforgiving of businesses—comedy.
"He is one of, if not the, funniest open-mic'ers [in Portland]," says Nicki Toma, a bartender at Suki's Bar and Grill who has seen Bain perform many times. "He's just one of those people who has natural talent and can make you laugh even if he doesn't know what he's talking about…even if you don't know what he's talking about."
A coupla Bain jokes from his routines: "How come on St. Patrick's Day everyone's Irish, but on Cinco de Mayo I can't steal a car radio?" or, "I saw a cop Rollerblading the other day. I didn't know I could hate that much." Bada-boom.
A resident of the Hawthorne neighborhood when he's not on the road, Bain began seven years ago at Charlie Goodnight's Comedy Club in Raleigh, N.C. Bain, who spent most of his formative years in North Carolina, earned a chance to perform at the nationally recognized club and emerged knowing his career path had just been paved.
"I was out in my car, praying to God and thanking him for giving me something like this in my life," says Bain, 27.
Bain has performed in Portland, Seattle, Idaho and Los Angeles. He also performs annually at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival with such big-hitters as Patton Oswalt and Janeane Garofalo. And this month, well-known comedian Barry Sobel has asked Bain to appear with him in Portland.
Bain has also been making short, comedic films with friends for the past five years. This summer, the group entered one into The Tonight Show contest "Conan, Please Blow Up My Car." Host Conan O'Brien selected their video out of thousands to feature. And an independent studio, Troma Entertainment, has picked up one of the group's videos to distribute.
Bain hopes to expand his work in 2010, moving into improv, sketch comedy and even acting. But it is onstage performing where he feels he belongs.
"I will be doing stand-up," Bain says, "until I die."
LET'S GO CRAZY: Our favorite conspiracy-minded group. IMAGE: oathkeepers.org
The fanciful idea that the feds or the United Nations is building concentration camps to hold U.S. citizens isn't new. But the inauguration of a certain madrassa-loving socialist in 2009 has sent these folks into high dudgeon. And 2010 being an election year gives this tinfoil set a big chance to scream for the Fox News cameras.
Our nomination for whack-jobs most likely to gain air time? Oath Keepers, a Las Vegas-based "non-partisan association of currently serving military, reserves, National Guard, veterans, Peace Officers, and Fire Fighters." Why, you may ask, do they get the nod? Well, this group impressed us with its consistent ability to go beyond run-of-the-mill asinine comments on right-wing media sites into brilliantly asinine comments.
Members have sworn to refuse to obey 10 "unconstitutional" orders, most dealing with violations of free speech, warrantless searches and the like. But two stand out: Order Nos. 6 and 7—refusing both to "blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps" or to "force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext."
The Oath Keepers have 128 members in Oregon and 11,695 nationwide, according to the social-networking portion of its oathkeepers.org website. One of the many groups composing the spookily named "Patriot Movement," Oath Keepers carefully portrays itself as a nonpartisan, non-militant organization. And most of the banter in the group's online forums is friendly enough. But paranoia—and concentration camp rumors—pop up with disconcerting frequency.
"Have you been made aware of the massive roadblock plans to stop all travelers for a vaccine bracelet (stainless steel band with a micro-chip on board) that will force you to take the shot?" posted "wakeupamerica," a member from Milwaukie on Sept. 14. "Refuse it? You will be placed on a prison bus and taken to a quarantine camp."
Yes, examples of federal creepiness abound. But this organization's fears about impending American pogroms are crazy.
SPACE ODDITY: Unique club. IMAGE: Courtesy of Backspace
Backspace may not yet be the club on the tip of everybody's tongue, but it will be next year.
"When I first started booking Backspace I was working another full-time job and I ran the door myself," says booker Miranda King. "Now, there's definitely agents that seek us out."
It's not just the talent that has Backspace poised to break out—though this year the Old Town club has shown itself to be both well-versed in local underground pop and an appealing enough space to draw hyped national acts like Matt & Kim and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Instead, it's the crowd. Backspace allows its 21-and-up patrons—beers in hand—to share a dance floor with minors, something virtually unprecedented in Portland music history.
Getting Backspace there required work with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. When state liquor commissioners revised their antiquated rules in April 2008 on spaces' liquor control plans, they opened a window for small venues looking to craft venue-specific liquor control plans.
For the first time, the word "wristband" appeared in OLCC documents as an element that might work for some venues trying to have music for minors in a space that serves alcohol. Backspace not only uses wristbands, it hires extra security and monitors who watch for underage drinking. Backspace—a nontraditional venue that also serves as an Internet cafe, PC gaming center, computer repair shop and restaurant—is starting to feel like a legitimate venue, one without the dreaded "great wall" between all-ages and 21-and-up patrons at most Portland all-ages clubs.
Its "mixed-use" status is also part of what makes Backspace the club of Portland's future: Even if it didn't host shows, there would be reasons to go there.
"I think it's a different experience to see a band like Matt & Kim at Backspace than it is [to see them] at the Hawthorne Theatre," King says. Keeping all-ages venues afloat in Portland has never been easy, but Backspace seems to be on to something.
HIPSTERS: Oozing sincerity in the new year. IMAGE: WW Photo Illustration
This may be our boldest prediction: 2010 will mark the end of irony as a hipster trend and mark the beginning of sincerity.
The seeds of revolt are already in place: Oregon is now in the top five states of Peace Corps volunteers per capita. And nationally, Americorps reports that between November 2008 and April 2009, its applications rose 230 percent from the same six-month period a year before. Whether it's the crappy economy or the "Obama effect," young people are doing more sincere work, rather than, say, accumulating internships or starting garage bands.
"There are people quitting high-salary jobs to do community service," says Teresa O'Halloran, a program specialist for Americorps.
Current hipsters' predecessors in the 2000s were often children of what writer David Brooks called the Bohemian Bourgeoisie; these middle-to-upper-middle-class children could afford to be ironic and wear ripped jeans and wrong-sized sweaters to show they weren't snobs or, worse, mainstream. But now that the economy is in the toilet and people are uh, actually poor, this kind of irony is passé; stores that glorify hipster fashion are now too expensive.
If the economy has everyone buying cheaper, hipster trends may unknowingly sneak into the mainstream. And since hipsters are, by definition, self-aware, they know they risk painting themselves into a corner if they guzzle PBR with an irony chaser. Just read websites like latfh.com (Look at This Fucking Hipster) and, more locally, portlandhipster.com, that mock those same individuals dedicated to making a mockery out of the rest of the world.
A hipster's best retaliation in 2010? Sending the rest of the world a big "f— you" by being sincere. No more trucker hats and "I like my personality to come prepackaged by people much more clever than I am" T-shirts.
With the rest of the world latching onto wry hipster tactics, neo-sincerity is now in. Not only will it shock the mainstream, but it takes a lot less effort and is completely recession-proof.
THE IN HOOD: Look to Southeast 82nd. IMAGE: Tom Martinez
The next great neighborhood to watch now that people have overrun Alberta and Mississippi?
Montavilla, once avoided because of crime along Southeast 82nd Avenue, has now blossomed into a hipster haven filled with locally owned businesses and great happy hours, say residents and local home-sellers.
"Montavilla came around without direct planning," says Montavilla Neighborhood Association Chair and registered nurse Brian Wong. "It happened on its own. A neighborhood diverse in culture, backgrounds, languages. The formula wasn't magic. We just had affordable homes and capacity in commercial buildings. And we had people that believed they could create a community."
Need more evidence? Look at everything that's been happening in the 'hood recently:
Vintage Cocktail Lounge recently opened, where you can imbibe excellent drinks from a range of decades. For the hangover you'll have the next day, head to Bipartisan Cafe (7901 SE Stark St.), where you can sip Stumptown coffee and Tao of Tea teas and inhale the best coconut cream pie (and marionberry pie and peach-blueberry pie) you've tasted since your grandma's.
But we aren't the only ones who love Montavilla. As WW reported Dec. 16 in Scoop, Laura Widener, former pastry chef at Higgins and Southpark, will open up Pastrygirl at 7919 SE Stark St. in early 2010.
And the Montavilla Farmers Market is set to return next summer double the size it was in its first year back in 2006.
"The Montavilla neighborhood is still in the revitalization phase," says Marisa Swenson, the neighborhood association's secretary. "There was already a diverse population of people and businesses and a rich history. Now, we have excitement from people discovering the neighborhood for the first time, and they make you feel that anything is possible here."
PICK OF THE MENU: Black garlic. IMAGE: Glane23
We live in a town crowded with seasonally obsessed eateries that update their menus faster than Twitter feeds. Still, each year chefs gravitate to certain ingredients.
One year it's foam and micro greens; the next year, country pot roast and cupcakes. (You couldn't fling a spatula in 2009 without smacking a Portland entree containing either Padrón peppers or pork belly.)
Our bet for the heavy hitters of 2010? That depends who you ask.
"Marrow for sure," says Ben Bettinger, thechef at Beaker & Flask. He's playing around with smoking bone marrow, which he says transforms it into "smoky little pillows" that melt in your mouth. "People will push the envelope by using [odd] cuts of meat too: feet, heart…."
Specialty foods importer Provvista has a less bloody take on the new year. Owner Joe Guth says he's been getting a ton of interest from chefs in olio nuovo, "the newest and greenest oil of the current harvest" from producers in California, Italy and Spain. "It is spicy, a bit bitter, vivid green….," Guth says. Single-grape varietal vinegars may start showing up in dishes, too.
According to Castagna's new chef, Matthew Lightner, every restaurant has its own new must-have grocery list. "In our kitchen it's…black garlic, white cardoons, yeast and the use of flowers, " he rattles away, leading off with the gooey, molasses-tasting, fermented bulb that has even shown up on Top Chef. "You could probably put all four of these things together and have one great dish."
Our pick, if you must know, from this menu: black garlic.
MAAAD FOR GOATS: The pet to have in 2010. IMAGE: vivianjohnson.com
When two baby pygmy goats tried to board a C-Tran bus last month in Vancouver, we viewed it as a sign of the apocalypse.
But after we calmed down, we realized the goats must be trying to send us a different message—they're becoming so omnipresent around here (a goat tried the same boarding trick on a TriMet bus in 2008) it's time to recognize them as the pet poised to break out as most likely to show up in your neighbor's yard next year.
And so in the spirit of past animal fads such as Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs and, of course, chickens, we're forecasting goats as the must-have companion in 2010.
Exact numbers on the phenomenon are a little hard to come by. Portlanders wanting three or fewer pygmy goats don't need to buy a $31 livestock permit in the city.
But Art Lowell, who raises goats and other animals with his wife, Linda, on 33 acres outside Newberg, doesn't doubt our prediction of a goat boom.
The Lowells easily managed to sell about 40 goats down to about a half-dozen in a few months this year.
Some goats are bought for breeding, some for their meat (new immigrant groups from Africa and Latin America include goat in their diet), and others for cashmere. But many are used for eradication of yard annoyances like blackberries. And many become pets for the buyers, because they're pretty damn lovable and curious.
"They're like a dog—they'll follow you around," Art Lowell says. "They just can't be housebroken."
One note of caution before you buy a goat, as evidenced by the stories of goats getting out to catch the next bus: They are masters of escaping enclosures.
Yet Naomi Montacre, owner of two pygmy goats at her Sellwood organic food store, says she wants to get more.
"There continues to be this desire to have agricultural animals in our lives," she says. "They're like cats and dogs—and they're more friendly than sheep."
The slight but seemingly important distinction between leggings and pants is becoming so blurred that it's the fashion trend we're picking to make a strong Portland debut in the coming year.
"Leggings sell extremely quickly these days," says Laura Hudspeth, an employee at Sock Dreams, a popular socks-and-more store in Sellwood.
Even Chico's, a national clothing chain with two Portland locations that traditionally targets mature women, "has started marketing leggings as pants," says former Chico's assistant manager Sada Naegelin.
While the "Wearing Leggings as Pants Is a Way of Life" Facebook group (which asserts, "You are fully aware of the multiple advantages that leggings have to offer: comfort, a slimming effect, affordability. They pull any look together") has only 104 members as of Dec. 28, an Internet search reveals a slew of recent college newspaper editorials acknowledging (and mostly lamenting) the growing trend of wearing leggings as pants. It also shows Lindsay Lohan to be the figurehead—or figure legs—at the origin of the trend.
Translation? Leggings-as-pants (LAPS to some) will soon be infiltrating U.S. cities, especially those rife with recent college graduates like the Portland metro area, where the number of 18-to-34-year-olds with a bachelor's degree or higher is 40 percent above the national average.
If you must wear LAPS, Hudspeth offers the following fashion tip about putting something over the top: If not a skirt or long shirt, perhaps another pair of leggings, she suggests, which can help obscure the potentially obscene sheerness created when any thin fabric is finely stretched across a well-rounded buttocks.
She adds that while she's "seen it done very badly," wearing leggings can provide a forgiving alternative for women who have a hard time finding jeans that fit right. She often wears leggings herself, especially for bike riding, but always with at least a pair of shorts on top.
Any college-football fan who watched Ndamukong Suh in 2009 knows he's someone to watch in 2010.
But we include the Grant High grad because it's so rare for somebody who played high-school football in Portland to make a Heisman list. In fact, you've got to go back to Central Catholic grad Joey Harrington placing fourth in 2001 as Oregon's quarterback or Jefferson High School grad Terry Baker winning the Heisman in 1962 as Oregon State's quarterback.
And we're betting the 6-foot-4 defensive tackle has a much more successful pro career than either Harrington or Baker did.
Playing for the University of Nebraska, Suh had one of the most exceptional seasons ever by a college defensive lineman. He was the Associated Press player of the year and became just the 15th defensive player to be a Heisman Trophy finalist, ending up fourth out of the roughly 15,000 college football players in Heisman voting.
Suh's success vaulted him into the pantheon of top prospects for the 2010 NFL draft, with some experts believing he'll be the No. 1 overall pick.
"He continues to work hard at maximizing his potential, on and off the field," says Grant coach Diallo Lewis. "He is arguably the most dominating player in college football."
In the week leading up to the Dec. 12 Heisman Trophy presentation, Suh told ESPN: "Offensive guys are going to get most of the votes. It's fine. I wish I could have gotten more. I wasn't hurt by it."
Suh returned for his senior season at Nebraska, despite being projected as a first-round pick in 2009, because he wanted to graduate, improve Nebraska's football program and move up in the draft.
He did all three under second-year coach Bo Pelini. Earlier this month, Suh revealed he almost transferred to Oregon State (think the Beavers might have been in the Rose Bowl instead of the Ducks if that had happened?) after Nebraska canned the coaching staff in 2007. But Pelini persuaded him to stay.
It's paid off.