Former Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David will be in Omaha on Tuesday as the featured speaker at the Man2Man Luncheon, put on by Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Midlands. The event is set for noon to 1 p.m. at the Scott Conference Center and is sponsored by Sid Dillon Chevrolet. Tickets are available for $10 and can be purchased online at bbbsomaha.org or by calling 402-504-4719.
David, a Pro Bowl alternate last season, has spent all five of his NFL seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is signed with the team through 2020. In 78 career pro games, he owns 664 tackles (18 sacks), 10 interceptions and 12 forced fumbles.
A junior college transfer at Nebraska, David set the school record for tackles in a season with 152 in 2010. His 133 tackles in 2011 rank No. 5 all time.
Q: How often do you make it back to Nebraska?
A: I actually just came from Nebraska this past weekend. I was there for the Team Jack Gala.
Q: Do you consider Nebraska a home?
A: Not home, but a home away from home. A lot of guys I played with, when they go back they reach out and see if I’m going to be in town. That’s what the Team Jack Gala was for, not only to support the Team Jack Foundation and Rex Burkhead and what they do, but also to give a chance to see my teammates again and hang out and catch up.
Q: How did you get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters?
A: The idea of working with them just inspired me and caught my attention. With me being a guy who loves to inspire the youth and having youth look up to me as a professional athlete, I thought to myself, ‘What a great opportunity to have to give support to Big Brothers Big Sisters and inspire adults to grab a kid and impact their life in a positive way.’
Q: Did you have a mentor growing up?
A: I didn’t have one set mentor, but I ran across — whether it was playing football or just someone giving me advice — (people) I treated as a mentor. I try to take the knowledge they gave to me and carry it over to adulthood throughout my life. It kept my head on straight, kept me out of trouble and helped me get to where I’m at today.
Q: Are you mentoring anyone now?
A: I’m not as of right now. I’m just trying to reach out to kids of all ages and impact their lives the best way I can. I have five nephews who actually see me as their mentor, so I do my best for them to keep them level-headed and get them on the right track.
Q: What was your biggest life lesson you learned at Nebraska?
A: The thing I learned at Nebraska is the respect factor. You never know what someone is going through or what their life is like. That’s what I did was build relationships with those guys, and to this day I keep in contact with almost everyone I played with and keep great friendships.
Q: What is the football moment that stands out to you when you were a Husker?
A: Those two years, in the short time that I had, I got a chance to meet some great people and develop some relationships that last a lifetime. I still remember my last bowl game when we ended up losing, Coach Bo (Pelini) pulled me aside as one of the seniors and I told him I really wish I had four years. The bond I created in the locker room with the guys was something I thought I’d never be able to do. They’re like my brothers.
Q: Do you still follow the team?
A: Yeah, I follow the team. I’m a football fan, so I follow them. I don’t really know the people that are playing right now, but I had a chance to go talk to Coach (Mike) Riley. He seems like a great guy. From what I’ve been hearing, he’s got some things brewing over there. I know they made a change in the offseason with their defensive coordinator and things like that. Expectations are high for those guys as always, especially after the year they had last year.
Q: With Nebraska’s shift from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4, what would that change be like for you as a linebacker?
A: There’s more being aggressive with an offensive lineman. Some people may not know, but when coach Bo Pelini was there, we played a little bit of 3-4 in some games, so I played it a little bit, but it wasn’t exclusive. An exclusive 3-4 gives a different look to an offense. I’m sure it won’t be that much of a change for those guys over there. I mean, they have guys who I believe can handle it.
Q: How is the role different for a linebacker in a 3-4 vs. a 4-3?
A: Basically just being more physical at the point of attack, having offensive linemen coming up on you and things like that.
Q: How quickly can defenders adapt to a scheme change like this one?
A: They have a long time to get it done, a lot of time. The coach (Bob Diaco) came in right away, so they are able to respond, and they have spring ball to go do it. The whole thing is don’t try to force a lot of things on the guys. Just stick to the basics. You know, it’s a basic game, and I’m sure everything will work out. When those guys start getting comfortable, that’s when you start adding on different things.
Q: You just finished your first winning season in the NFL at 9-7. How do you feel Tampa Bay played overall, and how would you assess your own performance?
A: I think we made a lot of gains from when I came here four years ago. We’ve got a great group of guys in place and a great locker room in place. The talent’s there. Now it’s time for us to take it to another level. We were one game away from making the playoffs, so that shows a lot of progress from previous years. Me personally, it wasn’t my best year. But I can take team success over my own success any day. I’m just trying to learn from that and, at the end of the day, hopefully have a better year individually than I had last year. But team success overall is my main goal.
Q: I’m sure you don’t want to make excuses, but were injuries a factor even though you played in all 16 games?
A: Yeah, I had some injuries here and there that had been upsetting me. But I don’t make any excuses or put it out. I just go out there and try to play hard for my football team. But there were really times I was slowed by the injuries I had.
Q: Do you have ongoing college rivalries with any Tampa Bay teammates?
A: Yes, with all the schools, whether we (Nebraska) play them or not. I’m a trash talker, so I talk trash to all our guys. When Nebraska’s on, I make it known that Nebraska’s on. Me and (Tampa Bay defensive tackle) Gerald McCoy have a good rivalry. He played at Oklahoma and I’m a Nebraska guy, so he trash-talked Nebraska and I trash-talked Oklahoma. We always get into it.
Q: What’s the oddest fan request you’ve ever gotten?
A: One fan asked me for my game jersey at the game. That was an honest question. He’s like, ‘Can I have your game jersey?’ and I’m like, ‘Uhhhh, I don’t know if I can give you that.’ It’s a strange thing to be asked when you’re walking out of the stadium.
Q: How about a preview of what your message will be in Omaha next week?
A: Basically, the importance of getting involved in a young person’s life and passing along encouragement as much as you can. And to the littles, always keep your ears open and listen and take all the advice you can from adults because I’m sure they’ve experienced something you’re going through. Stay positive through the whole thing and always have faith.