The Buccaneers addressed another major weakness with the selection of Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David. The former Cornhusker is happy to be a Buccaneer and promised head coach Greg Schiano he will make his selection count.
The Buccaneers continued their wheeling and dealing ways, and moved up for the second night in a row to select a player that they coveted, taking Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David with the 58th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Tampa Bay traded up ten spots to get back into the second round to grab David, giving up their third and fourth-round picks to Houston, and gaining the Texans’ seventh-round pick.
On a conference call just minutes after being drafted by the Buccaneers, David said he is excited to be a Buccaneer.
“I saw that Tampa Bay's big need was linebacker, but I wasn't sure they were going to come at me. It was very surprising. Throughout the process I haven't really talked to Tampa Bay as much, but it's a blessing to be part of the organization.
“At first I thought I was going to fall to the Eagles, and then I saw them pick another guy. Then I had a possibility of going to Tennessee because I took a visit there, but I saw that didn't pan out.
“So I started getting anxious more and more, and that’s when the call from coach Schiano came and he told me what was going on. I held my breath. I was very excited. I wish you guys could have seen the look on my face. I told him thank you for everything, and I'm going to make it count.”
David’s production was tremendous in his two seasons for the Cornhuskers totaling 285 tackles.
David played his first two seasons at Fort Scott Community College before transferring to Nebraska for the 2010 season. David recorded 123 tackles (70 solo), 25 tackles for loss, three interceptions, four sacks, and two forced fumbles in the 12 games he played for Fort Scott in 2009.
David talked about the process of attending a junior college.
“It was a really humbling experience, coming from a powerhouse high school where you had a lot of teams looking at you and recruiting and stuff,” David said. “And then not being able to qualify to go to a Division 1 school and having to go to a junior college, it was very humbling.
“I learned you can't take anything for granted. You have to thank the Lord and I thank the Lord every day. He got me on this path and I just followed his plan and it led me the right way.”
In his first year with Nebraska, David set a single-season school record with 152 tackles for the year. He also tallied six sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss, and eight passes defended.
As a senior in 2011, Nebraska changed their defensive strategy to a more traditional 4-3 scheme, where David was assigned to play the Will (weakside) linebacker position. He adjusted seamlessly into the new scheme and play very well for Bo Pelini and the Huskers. David accounted for 133 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, and two passes defended.
Now a professional football player, David will recognize a familiar face when he walks into the team facility for the first time.
“(Buccaneers cornerback) Anthony Gaitor was my teammate in high school, we won a championship together (at Northwestern in Miami). He can be a guy to kind of guide me a little bit, show me the ropes a little bit because he's got a year under his sleeve. He can teach me the ins and outs and stuff; it's a positive.”
Bucs head coach Greg Schiano talked about the love David has for the game of football shortly after the selection was made.
“Guys that love the game, and everybody says they love it, but guys that live it – this guy (David) lives it,” Schiano said. “You have to kick him out of the facility, he trains, he’s all about football – those guys are generally – I’ve never had one that wasn’t tough. That’s so important to them so they’re going to do whatever it takes to win that football game. That’s what I mean when you talk about these three guys (Mark Barron, Doug Martin and David).”
David confirmed Schiano’s sentiment.
“I started playing football when I was 6 years old and I haven't missed a beat, haven't missed a year ever since,” David said. “I've been playing football my whole life. I'm very passionate about it; I just love the game. It's all fun, and I'm going to give my all and play as long as I can.”- Eric Dellaratta and Andrew Scavelli contributed to this report
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