Dec. 8, 2011
PITTSBURGH - Six Pitt football players have been awarded All-Big East honors, as announced by the league on Thursday. Ray Graham and Jarred Holley received first team recognition, while Chas Alecxih, Aaron Donald, Max Gruder and Antwuan Reed earned second team honors.
Graham (Elizabeth, N.J./Elizabeth), a junior running back, was named to the first team despite missing the final four games of the regular season with a knee injury. In just eight games, Graham totaled 958 yards rushing on 164 attempts (5.8 avg.) with nine touchdowns and was second in the nation in rushing when his season was cut short. His rushing total was good enough to finish fourth overall in the Big East. Additionally, Graham had 30 receptions for 200 yards (6.7 avg.) on the year.
Holley (Easton, Pa./Easton Area), a junior safety, earned first team honors after being named to the All-Big East second team in 2010. Holley finished the regular season with 64 tackles, including five tackles for loss and two sacks. At Iowa, he recorded his ninth career interception and returned it 26 yards. He has also totaled three pass break-ups and has forced a fumble.
As a second team honoree, Alecxih (Lancaster, Pa./Penn Manor) is one of Pitt's most disruptive players on defense. The senior defensive tackle is fourth on the team in tackles with 54, recording 13.5 tackles for loss for minus-56 yards, and has 5.5 sacks. Alecxih has also five quarterback hurries, broken up four passes and has forced two fumbles. His first career interception came against Buffalo with a 47-yard return.
Donald (Pittsburgh, Pa./Penn Hills), a second team honoree, earned a spot in the starting lineup on the defensive line late in the season due to his stellar production. The sophomore leads the team with 15.0 tackles for loss, including 10.0 sacks on the year, which makes him only the fifth Pitt player since 1991 to record 10 sacks in a single season. Additionally, Donald has recorded 42 tackles and has a team-best 11 quarterback hurries and four pass break-ups.
After leading Pitt in tackles the entire season, Gruder (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Country Day School) was named to the All-Big East second team. The senior linebacker tallied 107 tackles on the season, including 7.5 tackles for loss and a sack assist. His 8.9 tackles per game rank second in the Big East. Additionally, Gruder has recorded four quarterback hurries and three pass break-ups on the year.
Reed (Johnstown, Pa./Greater Johnstown), a senior cornerback has earned second team honors as a second-year starter for the Panthers. In 12 games, Reed recorded 29 tackles and a team-best seven pass break-ups. He recovered two fumbles and returned one against Syracuse 20 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, which sealed Pitt's win over the Orange.
The Panthers (6-6, 4-3 Big East) will face Southern Methodist University (7-5, 5-3 Conference USA) in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 7, 2012. It will be just the sixth meeting ever between the two schools and the second in a bowl game. SMU defeated Pitt in the 1983 Cotton Bowl, 7-3. The all-time series is tied, 2-2-1.
For tickets and travel package information, call the Panthers Ticket Office at (800) 643-PITT. The ticket office will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Tickets and travel packages can also be purchased online through Altour, the Official Travel Provider for Pitt Alumni and Fan Travel. Contact Altour for your customized travel package http://www.alumni.pitt.edu/event/2011bowl/. Go to "Bowl Central" at www.PittsburghPanthers.com for additional information.
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