- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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The plan always called for Lavonte David to get bigger.
Nebraska's move to the Big Ten simply provides a little extra incentive for the star linebacker.
David did it all for Nebraska in 2010, earning unanimous first-team All-Big 12 honors and second-team All-America honors after a breakout season. He led the Big 12 and ranked third nationally with 152 tackles, a Nebraska single-season record, and recorded 15 tackles for loss, six sacks, 10 pass breakups and seven quarterback hurries.
But David's most impressive numbers might have been 6-1 and 210 -- his height and weight. Despite being undersized, he managed to remain extremely productive.
David also knows to continue his success, both at Nebraska and at the next level, he'll need to bulk up.
"That was a goal of mine last season as well, to put on weight," he said. "I'm still trying to do the same thing for the upcoming season. It's one thing I'm really trying to work on."
David's ultimate goal is to reach 230 pounds, although he admits 225 might be more realistic. He's already at 221 and says it's easier to add the weight during the offseason, when his training schedule is more focused and routine. (Most players lose weight during the season.)
One major question for Nebraska's Blackshirts defense heading into the Big Ten is whether the linebackers can adjust to a slightly different brand of football. As Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne said: "You may see [in the Big Ten] a few more traditional-type linebackers, guys that are 220, 230, 240 pounds in the ballgame, whereas in the Big 12, you had so many spread offenses that you ended up playing nickel and dime and you're playing with five, six defensive backs a lot of the time. And sometimes those guys are lined up as linebackers."
David notices the differences, too.
"It'll be real physical ballgames," he said. "We know what's coming at us."
The Big Ten has had its share of smaller linebackers stand out. Ohio State's Brian Rolle, a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2010, checks in at just 5-11 and 218 pounds. Michigan State star Greg Jones was never the biggest 'backer, although he added weight between his junior and senior seasons.
It'll be interesting to see how David and the other Huskers' linebackers fare in the Big Ten this fall.
6hDavid M. Hale