Former NFL safety Dawan Landry, known for his big hits, did not start his career on defense at all. The Louisiana native started as a quarterback at Hahnville High School.
“I had played quarterback my whole life,” Landry said to Prime Time Sports Talk. “I never thought about playing defense or anything like that, we had plenty of players in middle school and high school and if anybody played both ways it was very rare, you’re a one position player coming up for us.”
Landry was recruited to play his college ball at Georgia Tech and redshirted as a quarterback. But everything changed when then safety Tony Hollings expressed a desire to change his position to running back.
“[When they moved him to running back] they had a shortage at safety, so they decided to move me to the defensive side of the ball,” Landry said. “I had barely played offense and now I”m playing defense.”
Though sparingly playing defense before then, Landry was ready to take on safety.
“I just love challenges, to be honest,” Landry said. “And my thing was always just learning new positions on the fly and I fell in love with it.”
Landry’s changed proved dividends as he was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the fifth round of the 2006 NFL Draft. It did not matter where he was going in the Draft, as long as he was selected.
“I watched the first round. But after that, I was staying busy,” Landry said. “I was driving with my wife when I got a call from the Ravens and I was just happy to hear my name called.”
Right when he walked into the Ravens facility as a rookie, he was all smiles and ready to work with some of the game’s best at that time in Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs.
“Coming to work that year I was like a kid at the candy store and it’s like you get to play with Michael Jordan every day,” Landry said. “Once mandatory minicamp and training camp came around I was like, ‘Wow I get to lineup with them’ We were just so loaded.”
Landry ultimately stood out in a sea of stars his first season. With 69 tackles, three sacks, six passes defended, and five interceptions for 101 yards and one touchdown, he was given a vote for AP Defensive Rookie of the Year as well named to Pro Football Weekly’s PFWA All-Rookie team.
He continued his stellar play until everything went topsy turvy in his third season. Running back Jamal Williams pushed into the second level meeting Landry downfield causing him to go down with a spinal contusion injury.
“I’m laying on the floor, I can’t move or anything and the shock hit me that I’m not movin’,” Landry said. “They rolled me over to check my hands and feet and they said I was movin’ my feet but I didn’t feel em so they put me on the gurney.”
The only thing going through Landry’s mind was to continue his roll in the NFL like he never left. After getting a spinal fusion the following offseason, it was all about getting that first hit out of the way.
“I just wanted to pick up where I left off,” Landry said. “My big thing was, the first day of pads at training camp, get me on the field so I can hit somebody to see what it feels like.”
Coming back from his injury, Landry recorded career highs in tackles with 89 and eight passes defended.
It was a comeback for the Georgia Tech alum who played himself to a big payday in Jacksonville with a five-year contract.
“After that season, [there was definitely a feeling of redemption],” Landry said. “We went so far in the playoffs [also] and it always hurts to lose in the playoffs, but that was amazing and when one chapter closes another one opens.”
Landry’s post-gridiron days are spent doing the one thing he may be just as passionate about as football: Pumping iron.
Landry’s father did not let Dawan lift until he entered ninth grade. He also had an uncle into bodybuilding.
During his playing days, Landry never lifted with the defensive backs and found himself in the weight room with the linebackers and defensive linemen.
“I wanted to lift with the guys bigger than me so I could outlift them,” Landry said. “During my playing days, I just wanted outwork everybody so that’s where the lifting comes in for me and anything I could have done to be the best, that’s what I was going to do, my mindset was always, ‘I was gonna be bigger, stronger, and faster than my opponent.'”
Landry’s wife Dominique, who shares a passion for exercise with her husband, purchased the LLC Two6Fit.
“My wife, she’s into fitness also, so she just recently got the LLC and said ‘I’m gonna get the LLC, you just do the videos so we can put it out.'”
The former Raven and Jaguar began recording videos and started getting urged by peers to post on the internet.
“I’ve been doing the videos and all of that ever since I left [football] but never dabbled in social media or anything like that,” Landry said. “I would send it to my buddies and close friends and they said, ‘You need to put it out there man.'”
Landry’s goal is to train clients personally and online, specializing in fitness and muscle growth helping regular people, as well as athletes achieve healthier lifestyles.
While he is constantly egged on to start a gym, he is more focused on taking it one step at a time.
I get that a lot where people tell me, ‘You should just open a gym’ But I just wanna start off small,” Landry said. “Just work my way up and if the opportunity presents itself and I get that big and if I have that much of a following, sure.”
Landry has called out some of the game’s notable alumni which include Chris Johnson, Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones, Antonio Cromartie, among others in a fitness challenge competition called Checks and Balances. The challenges range from push ups, sit ups or pull ups to keep the competitiveness between them alive even though they live in different parts of the country.
“Football brings us together and a lot of the guys we still talk day to day,” Landry said. “It’s just the competitive nature in you like the challenges we’re doin’ now, it’s something that everybody can achieve and just tag people so they say, ‘Man he’s trying to outdo me’ So it’s just like the camaraderie we had in the locker room and just making sure our brothers are good and it’s taking off pretty well.”
It is something that he and his brother LaRon bonded over.
“My brother is one of the most naturally gifted athletes I’ve ever been around,” Landry said about LaRon. “I was like, ‘I’m going to do everything to make myself better’ And my brother wasn’t like that just naturally gifted and it was his sophomore year at LSU when he started getting bigger and stronger, he definitely got the good genes.”
Landry in the digital age is looking to help fans of his see that any normal person can have the body they want in his life after football.
“I just want to show that everyone can achieve their goals,” Landry said. “Chase after your goals day after day and just never give up on yourself.”
BROUGHT TO YOU BY…….