The University of Kansas has gotten a lot of publicity lately for producing stand out NFL stars Aqib Talib and Chris Harris, but KU has been putting out All-Pro caliber defensive backs for some time now. Last week, we featured Gerald McBurrows and this week we are featuring long time NFL-er Kwamie Lassiter.
Kwamie Lassiter is one of the great junior college success stories in the history of Kansas football. Lassiter was a JUCO All-American at Butler County Community College in El Dorado, Kansas and he continued his rise at KU and eventually into a productive NFL career.
He came to Lawrence in 1991 and immediately became an impact player in the Kansas secondary. In his junior season, he recorded two interceptions and 11 tackles in a win against Oklahoma State, and for his efforts, Lassiter was named the national defensive player of the week. He missed almost an entire season at KU due to injury, but the NCAA gave Lassiter that year back, and he remained in Lawrence until 1994. He finished his KU career with seven interceptions and a 1992 Aloha Bowl ring.
Despite good numbers at the safety position at KU, Lassiter was not drafted into the NFL. Instead, he signed with the Arizona Cardinals as a free agent. He had three sacks from the secondary in 1997 and took over the starting role in 1998 when injuries began to decimate the Arizona secondary. Lassiter had already recorded a few interceptions for the Cardinals while coming off the bench in the nickel package, but that 1998 season was his NFL coming out party. That season, he had eight interceptions (good for second best in the league), two forced fumbles, and 40 tackles.
Lassiter started all 16 games for Arizona in 1999, and despite only registering two interceptions that season, he contributed in other ways. One of those interceptions was taken back for a touchdown (Lassiter’s first in the NFL) and he recovered two fumbles for the Cardinals.
Lassiter started every game for the next four seasons with the Cardinals and had another breakthrough year in 2001. That season, he grabbed nine picks (a career high and good enough for third in the league), had one quarterback sack, registered 83 solo tackles, and assisted on 29 others. He was selected as a Pro-Bowl alternate after that season. He also had the privilege of being Arizona’s “franchise player” after his fine performance.
After another stellar season in the desert in 2002, Lassiter moved on to the San Diego Chargers. He lasted one season there and finished his career with the St. Louis Rams in 2004.
Since then, Lassiter has kept busy. He does a nationally syndicated internet radio program and has started the Kwamie Lassiter Foundation in the greater Phoenix area. The foundation focuses on child health and wellness with a focus on the African-American community in Arizona.