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Nov. 17, 2009

PITTSBURGH--University of Pittsburgh freshman tailback Dion Lewis has been named one of 15 "Players to Watch" for the 2009 Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, it was announced today by the Walter Camp Football Foundation.

Lewis is the only freshman on the Walter Camp list and one of just four running backs. The list will be pared down to five finalists on December 2, with the 2009 winner announced on December 10 during the 6 p.m. edition of ESPN SportsCenter.

Pitt boasts three previous winners of the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, including running back Tony Dorsett (1976), defensive end Hugh Green (1980) and receiver Larry Fitzgerald (2003).

This is the latest recognition for Lewis (Albany, N.Y./Blair Academy [N.J.]), who is also a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award (nation's top running back) and Maxwell College Football Player of the Year Award.

The 5-foot-8, 195-pound freshman is also poised to become the first player since Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick in 1999 to be selected the Big East's Offensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year in the same season.

Lewis is first in the Big East and sixth nationally in rushing yards per game (129.1 avg.). Overall he has 1,291 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on 224 carries (5.8 avg.). He has scored 14 total TDs on the year.

Lewis needed just eight games to reach 1,000 yards, matching Dorsett's Pitt freshman record set in 1973. With three games remaining, he trails Dorsett's Pitt freshman rushing record of 1,686 by only 395 yards.

"I love watching the kid," said Dorsett. "It brings back a lot of memories for me. I'm really happy for him that he has been able to excel. What I like most is he has no ego. He just runs the ball."

Lewis is also ready to become the most prolific freshman rusher in Big East history. He is just 37 yards away from matching former Pitt tailback LeSean McCoy's Big East frosh mark of 1,328 yards set in 2007.

Ranked No. 8 by The Associated Press and No. 9 in the USA Today coaches poll, Pitt has its highest November rankings since 1982. The Panthers moved up to ninth in this week's Bowl Championship Series ratings, their highest BCS listing ever.

Pitt achieved its lofty rankings after winning six consecutive games to improve to 9-1 on the year, its best start since the 1982 Panthers, led by quarterback Dan Marino, also started 9-1.

The Panthers have a bye this week before putting their undefeated Big East record (5-0) on the line at West Virginia (7-3, 3-2) on Nov. 27. Pitt will conclude its regular season against Cincinnati (10-0, 6-0) at Heinz Field on Dec. 5.

The game against the Bearcats, rated fifth in this week's BCS standings, will decide the winner of the 2009 Big East championship and resultant Bowl Championship Series berth.



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