When the Saints agreed to terms with LB David Hawthorne this afternoon, they picked up their third linebacker in two weeks to supplement their existing corps. The 6-0, 246 pound former Texas Christian standout has the ability to play all three positions and after making the Seattle Seahawks 53-man roster as an undrafted free agent has appeared in 61 games with 41 starts.
The hard-hitter has collected 336 tackles, six sacks, seven interceptions, four forced fumbles and three recoveries, as only the fifth player in franchise history to collect at least 100 tackles in three straight seasons. After leading the Seahawks with 115 stops in 2011, upon his agreement to terms with the Saints, Hawthorne talked to NewOrleansSaints.com about his career and his new home.
Q: It seems like you’ve had your eye on the Saints for a couple weeks, what ultimately led to your decision?
A: “From management, to coaching on down, it seems like a great group of people with a great track record of success. It’s the type of program I want to be in where there is the opportunity to win consistently and compete for a championship.”
Q: You are the third linebacker to sign here in recent weeks, along with
A: “I think myself and the other newcomers are looking forward to having the opportunity to coming into a program and with a group that has experienced so much success.”
Q: You earned the nickname “Heater” due to the way you play the game. Who gave you the nickname and how did it come about?
A: “I’ve had a nickname at every level I’ve been at. When I came to Seattle, I was an undrafted free agent who had to work hard both on defense and special teams and bring it every day. After I made some hard hits, I came to the sidelines and Lofa Tatupu gave it to me.”
Q: You made the NFL and the Seahawks as an undrafted rookie free agent and have gone on to be a starter the past two-and-half seasons. Talk a little bit about the challenges you faced as a free agent and how you view special teams because of the nature of a position like linebacker that calls for guys to contribute in a lot of different areas.
A: “I didn’t come in the most traditional way or the way people dream. I took the hard road. Coming from where I came from, I know you have to put your head down and go to work. All I was asking for was an opportunity to go out there and show people what I can bring to a team and a unit. In camp, guys like Lofa, Julian Peterson and Leroy Hill really took me under their wing and showed what they do and told me to keep it up. I had a lot of encouragement. I played football the way I wanted to play football. I didn’t want to have regrets about my play and everything would take care of itself.”
Q: When you visited the Saints you spent some time with Sean Payton, Steve Spagnuolo and Joe Vitt. What was your impression and what they’re trying to do defensively?
A: “They have a lot going for them. With the team they have one thing in mind in my talks with Coach Vitt and Coach Spagnuolo. They really let me know they wanted me to be a part of what they were doing. We talked mostly about football and got to know each other better as people. We kept the line of communication open between the sides and that’s why we are where we’re at today.”
Q: Some people are going to look at you and say you are a middle linebacker, but it seems like the players that are being brought in can play a handful of different positions. Can you discuss your ability to play any of the three linebacker spots and also how you feel you play against the run and the pass?
A: “I really feel like I can compete at any one of the three positions. I won’t be doing anything I haven’t done before. It’s football. I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to show them what I can do.”
Q: Playing for three different head coaches, two defensive coordinators and three schemes, help you in terms of adaptability?
A: “Yes, there were some differences. They taught me how to do that pretty well. A couple years ago when I was playing in the middle and Lofa came back and Leroy went down, I had to move to Will. When I played Will, I thought I learned a lot about football because I had seen it from there as well as the middle and it gave me the opportunity to learn football from different angles and how the schemes fit together.”
Q: What are your family’s feelings about you returning to play close to where you grew up in Texas? Did that factor into your decision at all to sign with the Saints?
A: “No, I don’t think so. I was just looking to find the best fit for me moving forward. I was looking for a team I could give a commitment to and get it back and I think I found it with the Saints. They’re going to give me an opportunity to continue to work on their craft and I like their vision. Location is a plus though.”
Q:In Seattle you played in one of the loudest outdoor stadiums in the NFL, can you talk about what it will be like going inside to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome?
A: “Yes, I feel like the fan support in New Orleans is tremendous just walking down the street. They give the team everything they have. You appreciate and respect it. It’s not always a given. You come into something like that and it’s a privilege. It’s always appreciated. In Seattle it was the same way with a loud stadium. You feed off the crowd and they feed off you. It adds another element to the game.”