Few players come to a team like Nebraska with expectations to make an immediate impact like Lavonte David had coming into fall camp.
Luckily, through the first two weeks at least, he's been well on his way to living up to all that hype.
According to his teammates and coaches, last year's No. 7-ranked overall junior college player and No. 2-ranked linebacker in the country has picked up the Huskers' defense as fast as anyone could have expected.
Pair his increasingly growing grasp of the playbook with his undisputed athletic ability, and the Blackshirts could be in store for some big things from the Miami, Fla., during the next two years.
"He's learning," NU head coach Bo Pelini said. "As he becomes more comfortable and he's growing into the knowledge and understanding of what we are asking him to do, he's getting better. I saw it out there. In the last few days as he's started to get comfortable he's made more plays.
"He's really athletic and I like what we've seen from him so far."
David's fellow linebackers agree with Pelini's observations, especially sophomore Eric Martin. Remembering back to his first two weeks as a Husker, Martin said David has picked up all the schemes and assignments far faster than he ever did.
"He's handled it better than I did," Martin said. "He's just taken it all in and filtered it. I took a little but more time than he did. He's picking it up real fast right now. He's doing better than I was."
At only 6 feet, 210 pounds, David is considerably undersized compared to the likes of Martin (6-2, 240) and fellow sophomore linebackers Will Compton (6-2, 225) and - prior to his injury - Sean Fisher (6-6, 235).
What he lacks in size, however, David more than makes up for in speed, agility and superb awareness on the field, Martin said.
"He's fast," Martin said. "He has good hips. He's a good, quality linebacker. He's got all the intangibles that the coaches want. His awareness is ridiculous. That's pretty much what I've seen from him, and I'm sure the coaches would agree on that."
Because of the way he's progressed so quickly in a defensive system as complex as Pelini's, Martin said there's no reason David can't come in and be a factor for the Blackshirts by the time the season opener rolls around.
"Lavonte has the potential to (play right away)," Martin said. "He's been playing linebacker longer than all of us, so he's got more potential. He's more of an older guy than just a new kid."
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