He was given the name “heater” by his former teammates in Seattle. Why? Because of the heat David Hawthorne puts on opposing offensive units. Now, the talented linebacker brings his smokin’ hot defensive moves to New Orleans with hopes of helping the Saints defense turn the corner.
Last season the Saints “D” made headlines for all the wrong reasons. This season there’s optimism among the Who Dat Nation that their Black & Gold defense will return to post-season competitive form. David Hawthorne may be a key.
A year ago the Saints landed two linebackers, who were considered tackling machines. Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne were both coming off great seasons with their previous teams… Lofton a Falcon; Hawthorne a Seahawk. But Hawthorne did not live up to expectations. Statically, David Hawthorne had his second worst season as a pro, finishing with only 38 tackles. I got a chance to sit down and chat with Hawthorne. He believes this year in a Black & Gold uniform will be much different.
David’s excited about what he can contribute in the new 3-4 scheme and about the potential of the defensive unit. “I think the sky is the limit for us. We’re buying into what Coach Rob Ryan wants us to do.”
So, who is this guy who packs so much heat? After a solid career in college football with the TCU Horned Frogs, Hawthorne was picked up by Seattle. The undrafted rookie free agent earned a roster spot with the Seahawks in 2008. In his first NFL season Hawthorne played in 14 games with 12 tackles. Then in 2009, Hawthorne became a monster on the field.
David received his first start ever in week 3 (2009) replacing the injured Lofa Tatupu. Hawthorne recorded a combined 16 tackles and 1 interception. To say Hawthorne had a breakout season would be a gross understatement. The former TCU star raised his game from 12 tackles in ‘08 to a whopping 117 tackles in his second season in the NFL. Hawthorne developed into Seattle’s leading tackler. David was a tackling machine and he felt the magic as much as Seahawks fans did, “That game I was feeling it. I just felt comfortable out there and I really played well,” recalled Hawthorne. From ‘09 through ‘11, David Hawthorne averaged 113 tackles per season…117 tackles in 2009; 106 tackles in 2010; 115 stops in 2011. See what I mean…a machine!
Head Coach Sean Payton likes the versatility Hawthorne brings to the Saints defense. “We are going to start with David Hawthorne on the inside, but we will be smart enough to look closely about who is getting the snaps right now at the outside position. If we are a little deep inside, we may ask a player, such as Hawthorne to take reps outside. But, I think to begin with, him coming back off an injury and now he is healthy, I am anxious to see him inside and sink his teeth into this defense a little bit.”
Does David Hawthorne have a preference? “Right now I’m focused on playing inside. I will do what is ever asked of me. But right now my focus is playing on the inside. My goal is to help the team and compete every day.”
Hawthorne comes across as a congenial, respectable, confident guy…the kind of player fans and anybody who loves the game of football pulls for. That’s a good thing, because this humble man will wear Black & Gold jersey #57, and he is fully aware of the emotions attached. "It's some very big shoes to try and fill,” acknowledged Hawthorne. “I know how great a player he (Rickey Jackson) was and I just want to help do my part in making our defense the best it can be."
We always say…love New Orleans and New Orleans will love you back. Well, our new #57 is starting off right, “Man, I love it here. The people are friendly and the fans are incredible. I’m close to home and I really love being in New Orleans," beamed Hawthorne.
If the Saints defense turns things around and Hawthorne’s performance as a Saint matches his body of work as a Seahawk, the Who Dat Nation will definitely love him back!