Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Linebacker Lavonte David steps into key role for Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TAMPA — Bucs rookie linebacker Lavonte David has been nicknamed "Lo-Lo" ever since training camp, when teammates say coach Greg Schiano inadvertently stuttered while saying his name in practice.

"He's like 'Lo-lo-lo,' " linebacker Dekoda Watson quipped of Schiano. "So Lo-Lo stuck."

But David, 22, has quickly made a name for himself with the Bucs, who have handed a lot of responsibility over to the second-round pick out of Nebraska. David, starting on the weak side, led the team with six tackles in a 16-10 win over the Panthers, impressing with his instinctive and aggressive play.

"I've been pleased — he's a really good football player," Schiano said. "He's a very mature guy, a good learner. And he has some really good traits, skills. We're fortunate to have him."

The Bucs also trusted David enough Sunday to give him the green-dot helmet transmitter through which coaches can talk to him, making him responsible for making defensive calls. David had done so in the offseason but never in a game, and defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan surprised David with the news Saturday. "I was like, 'Oh man,' " David said, smiling.

Schiano said there are a few players who could wear the transmitter during the season, depending on which linebacker remains on the field the entire game, but it was a vote of confidence to the rookie.

"It's not easy to do in college, to get all the reads and make all the calls, and that guy came in and did it in the NFL opening day, and wasn't shook at all," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "He never looked nervous. Now I see why we drafted him; he'll be around for a while."

David, soft-spoken and relatively small for a linebacker (6 feet 1, 233 pounds), is no stranger to producing in pressure-packed situations. He starred for nationally ranked Miami Northwestern High, played for a junior college national title at Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College and became an All-American at Nebraska.

At Fort Scott, David played with two current Giants via USF, two-time Pro Bowl player Jason Pierre-Paul and linebacker Jacquain Williams, whom the Bucs face Sunday in New York. But David was the team's most consistent worker, former Fort Scott coach Jeff Sims said.

"Lavonte loves the game of football," said Sims, now an associate head coach at Florida Atlantic. "Lavonte David would play in a football game in front of 100,000 people, and he'd play it in somebody's back yard tomorrow."

David was the defensive most valuable player of the 2009 national championship game against Cam Newton-led Fort Blinn. David racked up 12 tackles, including sacking Newton on the game's final defensive play, before Fort Scott lost on a punt return for a touchdown.

"That was heartbreaking," David said.

David was usually on the punt team, but Sims had taken him off to keep him fresh while shadowing Newton.

"Lavonte outplayed Cam Newton the whole day," Sims said. "He deserved that national championship. If he had been on that punt team, he no doubt would have tackled that guy."

David, a Miami native, always dreamed of playing for his hometown Hurricanes. Sims said he begged then-coach Randy Shannon to give David a look but was told he was too small.

David, however, said he doesn't "look back at all" about landing at Nebraska, where he set a Husker-single season record with 152 tackles as a junior and followed with 133 as a senior, when he was named All-American and the Big Ten linebacker of the year.

During the draft, ESPN's Mel Kiper compared David to former Bucs great Derrick Brooks. Tampa Bay traded up 10 spots in the second round to get David, who Schiano said is not playing like a rookie.

"I'm just taking it all in — playing football again," David said. "I love it."

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com.

Linebacker Lavonte David steps into key role for Tampa Bay Buccaneers 09/14/12 [Last modified: Friday, September 14, 2012 10:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. College World Series: Gators, LSU face off in all-SEC finals

    College

    OMAHA, Neb. — The matchup for the College World Series finals bolsters the case for those who say the best baseball in the land is played in the SEC.

    Florida’s Brady Singer, delivering during a CWS win over Louisville last week, is scheduled to start tonight against LSU.
  2. Jones: Fox Sports Sun shows depth in Rays coverage

    TV and Radio

    tom jones' two cents

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) makes a run home for a score in the in the final game of a three-game series between the Tampa Bay Rays and AL East rival the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, June 25, 2017.
  3. Brian Boyle says returning to Lightning a 'huge option'

    Blogs

    As former Lightning forward Brian Boyle approaches free agency this week, he said he's trying to stay busy.

    Former Tampa Bay Lightning player center Brian Boyle (24), on the ice during first period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa on March 16, 2017.
  4. Rays journal: Blake Snell to rejoin rotation, Erasmo Ramirez heads to bullpen

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — LHP Blake Snell is rejoining the Rays' rotation, but the move has as much to do with helping the bullpen as it does with Snell's improvement during his time at Triple-A Durham.

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Erasmo Ramirez (30) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.
  5. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.