Make us your home page

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie Lavonte David picks things up quickly

Lavonte David traded one red jersey for another when the Buccaneers drafted him in the second round out of Nebraska, where he was a two-time All-American for the Cornhuskers.


Lavonte David traded one red jersey for another when the Buccaneers drafted him in the second round out of Nebraska, where he was a two-time All-American for the Cornhuskers.

TAMPA — Much is expected of Lavonte David. As he walked from the field after practice Monday, the first-year linebacker carried his helmet and shoulder pads in his right hand and those belonging to veteran linebacker Adam Hayward in his left.

Hauling equipment is part of a rookie's obligations, meant to keep him humble amid the hype.

But on the field, David is becoming a dependable fixture at weakside linebacker and was listed as a starter when the depth chart was released on Monday. Even before he became a valet for Hayward, the second-round pick from Nebraska knew he'd have his hands full.

"The pressure to play right away has been on me ever since I went to college," David said. "When you play football and you love the game so much, you want that pressure to be on you. You want to be able to make that play, but it's a team game, and it takes everybody playing together."

At 6 feet 1, 233 pounds, David bears a physical resemblance to Bucs great Derrick Brooks, the Tampa Bay Storm president who attended practice Monday. Though David plays the same position, the comparisons end there.

When Brooks entered the league as a first-round pick in 1995, he had a Pro Bowl middle linebacker in Hardy Nickerson to mentor him. The Bucs are likely to start Mason Foster, who struggled as a rookie last season, alongside David.

"When you first look at them, you appreciate the athleticism," Brooks said Monday of the Bucs' young linebackers. "They do have a lot of the characteristics that we had when we were young players."

When coach Tony Dungy arrived in 1996 and installed a new defense, the Bucs started 0-5. But as those young players became more familiar with the system, the Bucs won five of their final eight to finish 6-10.

Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan has thrown the new playbook at David. He also has given him more repetitions than most defenders. In addition to his duties in the base defense, David has gotten looks at middle linebacker in nickel passing situations with the second unit.

"He's doing good," Sheridan said. "Like all the rookies, at some point in camp, it starts to mount up mentally. But he's plowing through it. The nice thing is he's getting a ton of reps with the ones (starters) and the twos, so he's getting coached off film because he's in there a lot. I'm sure guys wish they were getting the kind of reps we're affording him.

"What he brings is he's real instinctive, so even if he technically screws up, he's got great recovery."

David's playmaking ability helped Miami Northwestern High to state titles in 2006 and '07 but he was not heavily recruited and wound up at Fort Scott (Kan.) Junior College. After transferring to Nebraska in 2010, David set a school record with 152 tackles and became a two-time All-American.

David credits his Fort Scott teammate, offensive lineman Jamarcus Hardrick, for helping secure him a scholarship to Nebraska, having insisted on a package deal. Hardrick was reunited with David after signing with the Bucs as an undrafted free agent.

"When my name gets called, I've got to step in right away, especially at this level," David said.

"…Just the speed of the game is so great, you've got to be on point with everything. You've got to be right with your run fits, because backs in this league, they hit it downhill fast. You've got to be in the right place at the right time and handle your responsibility."

Once the Bucs begin preparing for the regular season, David will have less to remember because the game plan will be scaled to fit the opponent.

"So far, so good. Lavonte has been able to pick everything up," coach Greg Schiano said.

Including an extra helmet and shoulder pads.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie Lavonte David picks things up quickly 08/06/12 [Last modified: Monday, August 6, 2012 10:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. NFL Week 3: What we learned


    Take the knee … well, not NOW

     1. Photo of Roger Mooney for Times Sports.
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Sunday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Chris Archer's primary problem Sunday, as in much of September, was a lack of slider command. When he can't throw it where he wants, and doesn't have the confidence in the changeup to throw it often, he can't win with just his fastball.

  3. Somehow, Rays' Chris Archer remains just shy of being an ace

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Chris Archer had another bad game Sunday.

    Chris Archer is sputtering to the finish line, his rough start on Sunday his fourth in his past five in which he hasn’t gotten past four innings.
  4. Bradenton high school senior Chasten Whitfield inspires young anglers


    MADEIRA BEACH — The kids lined up single file, snow cones in hand, a procession of sweaty, excited grade schoolers watching Chasten Whitfield throw a cast net.

    Whitfield, a senior at Bradenton Manatee, demonstrates how to throw a cast net at the FishKids tournament in Madeira Beach. She also taught knot tying.
  5. Wreck helps Kyle Busch take control of Monster Cup's ISM 300

    Auto racing

    LOUDON, N.H. — Kyle Busch saw little but billowing white smoke that engulfed the track and blinded enough drivers that it caused a tremendous wreck that notably altered the race running order.

    Kyle Busch celebrates with a burnout after his third victory of the season that earns a berth in the second round of NASCAR’s playoffs. He also has some fun with Loudon the Lobster.