The Top Husker DLs of All-Time

The Top Husker DLs of All-Time

Big Red Report looks at the top players by position in Nebraska football history. This week we list the top Husker defensive lineman of all-time.

#1 Ndamukong Suh


Ndamukong Suh
(NU Media Relations)

Defensive Tackle
(2005-2009)
6-foot-4 / 300 pounds
Portland, OR

Suh was one of the most dominant defensive players in college football history. The first defensive player to win the Associated Press College Football Player of the Year Award, Suh was invited to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony finishing fourth in the voting. Winner of both the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award, Suh became the fourth Husker to win these in the same season. He led the Husker defense in tackles as a junior and senior, capped off by an incredible senior campaign which included 12 sacks, which ranks third in school history. Suh was the second overall pick by the Detroit Lions in the 2010 NFL Draft.



#2 Rich Glover


Rich Glover
(NU Media Relations)

Middle Guard
(1970-1972)
6-foot-1 / 233 pounds
Jersey City, N.J.

Before Suh there was Glover. Glover was considered the best Husker defensive linemen ever and there still could be an argument for that. He wasn't the biggest, but played big as he anchored a stout Blackshirt defense. A two-time All-American, Glover finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting as a senior, which was won by fellow Husker Johnny Rodgers. In NU's 1971 national championship season, Glover led the team in tackles with 92 and was best remembered for his performance against Oklahoma where he made 22 tackles. The New York Giants picked Glover in the third round of the 1973 NFL Draft.



#3 Grant Wistrom


Grant Wistrom
(Getty Images)

Rush End
(1994-1997)
6-foot-5 / 255 pounds
Webb City, MO

Wistrom played at a time when Nebraska won three national championship in four years. As a true freshman, he was the conference's Newcomer-of-the-Year and played in all 13 games as NU won the national title. Possessed with great athletic ability along with physical prowess, Wistrom would start every game in each of the next three seasons, helping the Huskers win two more national championships. A two-time All-American and Big 12 Defensive Player-of-the-Year, he won the Lombardi Award in his final season. Wistrom holds the NU career record for tackles for loss with 58.5 for 260 yards. He was selected by the St. Louis Rams in 1998 NFL Draft as the sixth overall pick.



#4 Danny Noonan


Danny Noonan
(NU Media Relations)

Middle Guard
(1984-1986)
6-foot-4 / 280 pounds
Lincoln, NE

The 1986 Big 8 Athlete-of-the-Year and All-American, Noonan was strong and quick, leading the Big Red in both sacks and tackles for loss that season. But there were some who would say he had a better junior campaign where he had career highs in sacks (11) and tackles for loss. In Noonan's three seasons, he averaged eight sacks a year. Not bad for a middle guard. The Dallas Cowboys saw something great in Noonan, drafting him No. 12 in the first round of the 1987 NFL Draft.



#5 Larry Jacobson


Larry Jacobson
(NU Media Relations)

Defensive Tackle
(1969-1971)
6-foot-6 / 250 pounds
Sioux Falls, S.D.

Jacobson helped NU win back to back national championships in 1970 and 71. Nebraska's first major award winner, capturing the Outland Trophy after making 73 tackles, twelve of which went for 73 yards in losses. Jacobson teamed up with Glover and Willie Harper in 1971 to form one of the best defensive lines in Husker history. A player of great stature, he was selected in the first-round of the NFL Draft by the New York Giants.



#6 Wayne Meylan


Wayne Meylan
(NU Media Relations)

Middle Guard
(1965-1967)
6-foot-1 / 239 pounds
Bay City, MI

Not many remember Meylan who played under Bob Devaney in the mid-60s. But the guy could hold his own among the great defensive linemen in Husker history. Meylan still holds the records for most tackles in a season (119) and career (238) for middle guards / defensive tackles. In his three years, he was a two-time All-American and back-to-back Big 8 Conference Player-of-the-Year. The Cleveland Browns picked Meylan in the fourth round of the NFL Draft.



#7 Neil Smith


Neil Smith
(NU Media Relations)

Defensive Tackle
(1985-1987)
6-foot-5 / 260 pounds
New Orleans, LA

Maybe the most athletically gifted player on this list. Smith was a physical specimen with a 7-foot, 1 ½ -inch arm span and could run a 4.49 second 40-yard dash. A great pass rusher, Smith could bat down passes and corral opposing quarterbacks with his great speed and long arms. Even with all his physical attributes, he was still a raw talent coming to NU as a freshman weighing around 220 pounds. Taking advantage of Nebraska's weight room, Smith gained weight and learned to become an All-Conference and All-American player, leading him to being the second overall NFL Draft pick in 1988 by the Kansas City Chiefs.



#8 Willie Harper


Willie Harper
(NU Media Relations)

Defensive End
(1970-1972)
6-foot-2 / 208 pounds
Toledo, OH

An unrelenting presence from his defensive end position, Harper was a terror for opposing offenses to contain. His rise to stardom happened as a sophomore when he was named the Outstanding Lineman Award winner of the 1971 Orange Bowl, in which Nebraska claimed its first national championship. Harper would go on to become a two-time All-American and All-Big 8 selection. He led the team in tackles for loss as a junior and senior and holds the NU season and career interception record for defensive ends/outside linebackers. Harper was drafted in the 2nd round of the NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers.



#9 Jason Peter


Jason Peter
(NU Media Relations)

Defensive Tackle
(1994-1997)
6-foot-5 / 285 pounds
Locust, N.J.

A three-year starter and two-time All-Big 12 honoree at defensive tackle for the Huskers. Peter improved his stats each year, becoming an All-American and Outland Trophy Finalist as a senior. Playing alongside Wistrom, Peter was a bear in the interior line for Nebraska's Blackshirt defense. He played an integral part in the Huskers' three national championships seasons. Peter was a first round draft pick (14th overall) of the Carolina Panthers.



#10 Kenny Walker


Kenny Walkter
(NU Media Relations)

Defensive Tackle
(1988-1990)
6-foot-4 / 240 pounds
Crane, TX

Walker overcame his deafness to become one of the best players in college football in 1990 and in Husker history. He was the Big 8 Defensive Player-of-the-Year and an All-American after leading the Huskers in tackles for loss (21 for 105), quarterback hurries (21) and sacks with eleven. Two of the reasons why Walker so effective was he was disciplined because he was deaf and possessed a cat-like quickness along the line of scrimmage. Despite his handicap, he was still drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 8th round of the NFL Draft.


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Shane Gilster is the Editor of Big Red Report Magazine. His stories focus mainly on catching up with former Huskers and examining Nebraska athletic history.
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