THIS BUC DOESN'T STOP
Defensive tackle Santana Dotson, the Buccaneers' fifth-round pick in the 1992 draft, is a Madison Avenue dream in the making. First, the name. His mother, Carolene, named him after the American Indian chief Santana, who preached that with unity comes strength. Second, the personality. He's ebullient, he studied radio and television broadcasting at Baylor, and he's also a sensitive guy who doesn't like to hurt people. His favorite book is The Big Sea, the autobiography of playwright-poet Langston Hughes. "He's a versatile writer," says Dotson, "and I like to think of myself as a versatile person."
A versatile player, too. After three games as a pro, Dotson shares the NFL lead in sacks, with five. He plays a key position in the 4-3 scheme used by defensive coordinator Floyd Peters. One tackle (another Buc rookie, 280-pound third-round pick Mark Wheeler) plays like a noseguard while the other, in this case the 270-pound Dotson, has to be proficient at both rushing the passer and stopping the run.
Dotson's father, Alphonse, was an NFL defensive lineman for four years, with the Dolphins (1966) and the Raiders (1968-70). Santana's dream of following in his father's footsteps was almost dashed when he chipped a bone in his right ankle in Baylor's second game last year. He played with the injury but made only 60 tackles and four sacks in 1991. Touted as a possible first-round pick when the season started, Dotson slid all the way to the 132nd pick overall. "Even with the injury, I should have been picked by the second round," Dotson says. "I knew somebody was wrong—the NFL for underestimating me or me for thinking I was better than I am."
After winning a starting job in the Bucs' camp, he sacked Cardinal quarterback Timm Rosenbach twice in the third quarter of the season opener, knocking him unconscious on the second hit. Then he fretted over whether he had hurt Rosenbach badly (he hadn't—but Rosenbach left the game and didn't return). The next week Dotson nailed Packer quarterback Don Majkowski in the first half and backup Brett Favre in the second. And on Sunday he got to Viking quarterback Sean Salisbury in the second quarter.
When Peters was the Vikings' coordinator from 1986 to '90, he had Keith Millard at the spot that Dotson is playing for Tampa Bay. Dotson has watched videotape of the Minnesota defense when it was under Peters's direction, in particular studying Millard, who was NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1989. "Even though they had great players, they played so well as a team," Dotson says. "That's the key for us. We've had people pay a lot of attention to Keith McCants and Broderick Thomas. That gives me a chance to show what I can do."
Since the league started keeping sack stats in 1982, no rookie has had more sacks after three games than Dotson has. Charles Buchanan of the Browns had 4� sacks after the first three games in '88. " Dotson's relentless," Phoenix coach Joe Bugel says. "And what a commodity, with that name of his."