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(Pictured Above: Chris Fowler and Aaron Donald during the Home Depot College Football Awards. Photo by Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images.)
Donald sweeps four national awards including the Outland Trophy and Bednarik Award on Thursday night
ORLANDO, Fla. (PittsburghPanthers.com) - Pitt senior defensive tackle Aaron Donald became one of the most decorated players in Pitt history on Thursday night as he added to his list of major awards, ending the night with four on the year. Donald was named the 2013 Outland Trophy winner, annually presented by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee and Football Writers Association of America to nation’s best offensive or defensive interior lineman and the Chuck Bednarik Award presented by the Maxwell Football Club to the college defensive player of the year.
The announcements were made live on ESPN at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show held at the Dance Hall on the Disney Boardwalk in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Donald earned the Outland Trophy over finalists Jake Matthews, an offensive tackle from Texas A&M and Baylor offensive guard Cyril Richardson. Donald marks the first defensive lineman to win the Outland Trophy since Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in 2009.
Donald’s second award of the night, the Chuck Bednarik Award, was earned over UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr and Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley.
The only other Pitt player to win the Outland Trophy was Mark May for his performance during the 1980 season. Pitt has never had a player win the Bednarik Award, which was first presented in 1995.
During the night’s festivities, Donald was also honored as a Walter Camp First Team All-American and represents Pitt’s first All-American since DL Jabaal Sheard in 2010 and the fourth in six years.
On Monday, Donald earned his first national honor when he was awarded with the 2013 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, annually presented to the “nation’s most outstanding defensive player” by the Charlotte Touchdown Club and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).
Donald went on to win the Rotary Lombardi Award on Wednesday night, presented by the Rotary Club of Houston to the “nation’s top lineman or linebacker.”
“I am just overwhelmed with all the wonderful honors from this week,” said Donald. “It really makes you speechless. I want to thank everyone who found me worthy of this recognition. This isn’t about me – it is about Pitt and my coaches and teammates. I’m appreciative of all of them.”
With his Nagurski victory earlier in the week, Donald became the first Pitt defensive player to win a national award since 1980 when the legendary Hugh Green was the recipient of the Lombardi, Maxwell and Walter Camp awards. Donald is also the first Pitt player to win four major awards in one season. Green and Tony Dorsett both won three major awards. Dorsett won the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award and the Walter Camp Award in 1976.
Earlier this week, Donald was selected the 2013 Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year by the Atlantic Coast Conference Sports Media Association (ACSMA) and was also named the 2013 Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year by the 14 league coaches.
The 6-foot, 285-pound Donald had an incredibly productive senior season. He leads the nation in tackles for loss (2.2 per game), while ranking 10th in forced fumbles (tied, 0.33 per game) and 13th in sacks (tied, 0.83 per game). Perhaps his most impressive statistic this season: of his 54 total tackles, nearly half have been behind the line of scrimmage (26.5).
A graduate of Penn Hills High School, Donald has 28.5 sacks for his collegiate career, the second most among active players and the highest total by an interior lineman.
Donald’s senior year production compares remarkably with Suh, who swept the Lombardi, Outland, Bronko Nagurski and Bednarik awards in 2009 and was also a Heisman Trophy finalist.
Through 12 games, Donald has 26.5 TFLs and 10 sacks. Suh had 20.5 TFLs and 12 sacks in 14 games.