- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 17, 2010

LINCOLN, NEB. (AP) - Nebraska tackler extraordinaire Lavonte David demurred when told in September that he would be pressed into a starting linebacker’s job.

The junior-college transfer had just arrived on campus over the summer and thought he wasn’t worthy, that he hadn’t earned it yet.

Two months later, David is threatening the ninth-ranked Cornhuskers’ single-season record for tackles and in the running for Big 12 defensive player of the year.

“When we recruited him, we thought he made us different,” defensive coordinator Carl Pelini said. “That’s playing out to be true.”

David is different himself, if you believe what you read and hear these days about spoiled athletes and their inflated sense of entitlement.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound junior is physically gifted, but he also is eager to go beyond what’s expected of him. He’s a self-described football nerd, studying film of opponents on his own time. He said he enjoys trying to break down offenses and recognize their tendencies.

He makes good use of that knowledge on the field.

David has made 106 tackles in 10 games and is the first Nebraska defender to go over 100 since 2004. He has 28 more stops than the Huskers’ No. 2 tackler, DeJon Gomes, and 21 more than leading tackler Ndamukong Suh made in 14 games last year.

This is a guy who made 19 against South Dakota State and 16 against Kansas State.

“He’s really a tackling machine,” Gomes said.

David’s average of 10.6 stops a game is 11th nationally and second in the Big 12 behind Iowa State linebacker Jake Knott’s 10.8.

The Huskers probably have four games left _ they need to beat Texas A&M on Saturday or Colorado next week to reach the Big 12 championship game _ so David has a chance to make the 44 tackles he needs to break Barrett Ruud’s school record of 149 in 2003.

Ruud, who plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, said he’s watched about half of Nebraska’s games and likes what he sees in David. Ruud said he would be happy for David if he breaks the record.

“We kind of have similar games,” Ruud said. “We both rely on instincts and rely on feel for the game to be around the ball a lot.”

David said he’s been driven this season to show his teammates that he deserves to be a starter.

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