Alex Henery and Ndamukong Suh were college teammates at the University of Nebraska for three seasons from 2007-09 and, unlikely as it might seem given their respective positions, struck up a friendship that endures to this day.
"I was texting him right now, actually," Henery said as a reporter approached his locker on Thursday.
Suh, for all his tremendous ability, has earned himself a negative reputation in the NFL for dirty play. He has drawn the ire of Commissioner Roger Goodell and been the target of a number of hefty fines for on-field transgressions. Henery knows a different Suh, however.
"He's a real nice guy for how big he is," Henery said. "People kind of have the wrong perception of who he is. He's a real smart guy. Fun to be around, a good guy with a fun personality. Great teammate, guys liked playing with him."
Aside from being on the football team, the two also shared a major – construction management engineering, part of the civil engineering family, and spent plenty of time together off the field.
"We were in the same classes," Henery said.
Were they study buddies?
"Yeah, I guess you could say that," Henery said with a chuckle. "We'd have some projects together. In engineering, you had some all-nighters and we were always there doing computer projects, stuff like that."
What was harder, learning the playbook or engineering?
"For me, probably engineering," Henery answered, acknowledging that the playbook for kickers is not exactly expansive. "For (Suh), he's pretty smart at both."
This will be the second time Henery faces Suh in the NFL and the first time for Nick Foles. The only other time the two faced off was when Nebraska played Arizona in the 2009 Pacific Life Holiday Bowl, Suh's last game as a Cornhusker, which did not go well for Foles and his Wildcats.
"He was, like, 0-for-20," Henery joked. "I don't know what he was. We killed him."
How many times did Suh and his fellow Blackshirts sack Foles?
"A lot," Henery said with a smile. "You'll have to ask Foles. I'm sure he'll remember that one fondly."
Foles was not in the locker room at the time to defend himself, but luckily a box score from the game is available online. Turns out Foles was not sacked "a lot" – just twice – though the Nebraska defense did get after him and completely shut down the Arizona offense in general, giving up just 109 total yards. Henery's quip about Foles going "0-for-20" was closer to being accurate, as Foles had easily the worst game of his college career that night, completing just nine of 29 passes for a paltry 48 yards and one interception. Nebraska cruised to a 33-0 victory.
Suh had a relatively quiet game on the stat sheet by his lofty standards, registering just two tackles (one for loss). Henery, on the other hand, kicked four field goals (from distances of 47, 50, 41 and 22 yards).
With playoff implications hanging in the balance for both the Eagles and Lions on Sunday, Henery is not in the mood to be too chummy with his friend and former teammate, but did acknowledge he'll greet Suh on the field to say hi – after an Eagles' win, hopefully.