As the dog days of summer continue, HuskerOnline.com is introducing a new series breaking down Nebraska's top-15 players on the roster heading into 2011.
In today's installment of Key Huskers, we take a look at linebacker Lavonte David and where he stands entering the start of fall camp.
Lavonte David emerged as one of the most athletic and talented linebackers in the country last season in his first year as a Husker, and he should only get even better in 2011. Despite not being the biggest linebacker out there, David was able to break the Nebraska single-season record with 152 tackles by using his rare combination of speed and natural instincts. His play last year was so good that he was unanimously named first-team All-Big 12 and Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, and Rivals.com even made him a first-team All-American.
What makes Nebraska's coaches even more excited about David is they'll now have had him in their system for a full calendar year when fall camp rolls around, unlike last year when he was in Lincoln for only a few months prior to the season. Add in the fact that he's already put on 10 pounds of muscle over the offseason, and David has every reason to rank at the top of the list of the best linebackers in the country.
What he still needs to prove
You'd really have to do some serious nitpicking if you were to try and find a weakness in David's game right now. Really the only thing you could point out is his inexperience at the Division I level, as he's only played 14 games heading into his senior season. That, however, shouldn't be much of an issue based on the way he dominated last season.
If anything, it would be the fact that David is in on so many plays each game, which could take a toll on him physically at some point this year. David was everywhere last season, and against some of the physical, run-oriented offenses in the Big Ten, he'll definitely be more at risk for injury than most players on the defense. Still, bulking up to over 220 pounds will certainly help, and there's no way David is going to change his relentless approach just to err on the side of caution and avoid getting hurt.
Most memorable play or moment
David was so good on a weekly basis that it's hard to just pick out one game or play as his best of last season, but his effort against South Dakota State was probably one of his most memorable performances. While seemingly everyone else on the team forgot to get out of bed against the Jackrabbits, David was full throttle for all four quarters. By the end of the day, the Miami native had racked up a career-high 19 tackles, marking the most by a Husker since 2004 and the seventh-most in school history.
In fact, David recorded double-digit tackle totals in eight of NU's 14 games last year, including three with 15 or more stops. Want an almost equally impressive stat? David did all of that while also ranking second on the team behind only Prince Amukamara with 10 pass breakups.
Once again, David will be the anchor of the linebacker corps this season, and he'll be looking to try and raise his draft stock even higher than it already is. As mentioned earlier, David and the rest of the Blackshirts will be put to the test in their first year in the Big Ten, but he's shown himself to be tough enough and durable enough to be up for the challenge.
The sky is the limit for David at this point, and he could go down as one of Nebraska's most productive linebackers of all-time despite playing just two seasons in Lincoln. Even better for David is he'll have plenty of help on the defense with one of the best front fours in the country in front of him and a talented secondary behind him. He'll also have a more experienced Will Compton and the return of Sean Fisher on both sides of him. David won't have to do it all himself this season, but that doesn't mean he won't at least make it look that way in the box score.