11.29.2011 / David makes it look too easy as the Huskers finish their regular season play. Blog posting by Mike Babcock, Huskers Illustrated Magazine.

Late in the third quarter of the Huskers 20 to 7 victory against Iowa, Husker senior linebacker Lavonte David was pushed to the ground while covering Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz on a pass route, freeing Fiedorowicz to catch the pass. David managed to get up, catch Fiedorowicz and pull him down, taking away the ball as he did.

"He plays his tail off every time he goes out there, Pelini said."

“I just saw the ball hanging out, and I took a shot at it,” David said.  He made the play sound so matter of fact, so easy. That’s how it’s been the past two seasons, David making the difficult seem easy.

As a junior, after transferring from Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College and immediately stepping into the starting lineup, he broke the school single-season record for tackles with 152. And this season, though he’s had fewer tackles (122), he’s been just as much of a playmaker.

Against Ohio State, his strip of the ball from Buckeye quarterback Braxton Miller midway through the third quarter was the turning point in a comeback victory.  At Penn State, he was involved in three consecutive tackles to stop the Nittany Lions on their next-to-last possession to preserve the 17-14 victory.

And even in the lopsided loss at Michigan, a game in which coach Bo Pelini said everyone shared responsibility, David was the exception, making a season-high 17 tackles. “He plays his tail off every time he goes out there,” Pelini said afterward.

That’s why David is a finalist for the Butkus Award, presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate linebacker. Only one Husker has ever won the award, Trev Alberts in 1993.  Broderick Thomas (1988) and Ed Stewart (1994) also were Butkus Award finalists.

This year’s winner will be announced on or before Dec. 7, about the time Nebraska will officially learn its bowl destination, almost certainly one in Florida, with speculation focusing on either the Capital One Bowl in Orlando or the Outback Bowl in Tampa, both scheduled for Jan. 2.

Either bowl would be fine with David, not only for the reward it represents for a season well played but also because he could finish his Husker career in his home state – he’s from Miami.

After the Iowa game, Husker I-back Rex Burkhead called David the “greatest” with whom he had ever played. “It means a lot because I feel the same way about Rex, man,” David said.

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