Nov. 25, 2013
PITTSBURGH—Pitt senior defensive tackle Aaron Donald was named a finalist for two more prestigious awards today and received an invitation to attend ESPN’s Home Depot College Football Awards Show in December.
Donald is a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, annually presented to college football’s outstanding defensive player of the year, and the Outland Trophy, given to the nation’s best offensive or defensive interior lineman.
Both awards will be presented on Thursday, Dec. 12, at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show from the Dance Hall on the Disney Boardwalk in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The show will air on ESPN from 7 to 9 p.m.
Donald is one of three finalists for each award. The other Bednarik finalists are UCLA senior linebacker Anthony Barr and Alabama senior linebacker C.J. Mosley. Donald’s competition for the Outland Trophy includes Texas A&M senior offensive tackle Jake Matthews and Baylor senior offensive guard Cyril Richardson.
Pitt’s lone winner of the Outland Trophy is offensive tackle Mark May, who won the award in 1980 and went on to NFL fame as a member of the Washington Redskins’ “Hogs” offensive line. May, whose No. 73 jersey is retired at Pitt, was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005.
A Pitt player has never won the Bednarik Award.
The 6-foot, 285-pound Donald is now a finalist for four national awards. He previously was named a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (nation’s top defensive player) and Rotary Lombardi Award (nation’s top lineman or linebacker). He is also a strong candidate for the Ronnie Lott IMPACT Trophy (top defensive player), which announces its finalists this Wednesday.
Donald leads the nation in tackles for loss (2.4 per game), while ranking 10th in sacks (0.91 per game) and 11th in forced fumbles (0.36 per game). Perhaps his most impressive statistic this season: more than half of his total tackles (51) have been behind the line of scrimmage (26).
A Pittsburgh native and graduate of Penn Hills High School, Donald is the active FBS career leader in total sacks (28.5) and solo sacks (27).
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Donald’s senior year production compares remarkably with former Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who swept the Lombardi, Outland, Bronko Nagurski and Bednarik awards in 2009 and was also a Heisman Trophy and Lott Trophy finalist.
The Panthers (6-5, 3-4 ACC) host the Miami Hurricanes (8-3, 4-3) this Friday, Nov. 29, at Heinz Field. It will be the final home appearance for Donald and 17 additional Pitt seniors.
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