Pitt's Aaron Donald Wins 2013 Rotary Lombardi Award

HOUSTON, Texas (PittsburghPanthers.com) -  Pitt senior defensive tackle Aaron Donald added to his list of major awards on Wednesday night as he was named the 2013 Rotary Lombardi Award winner, annually presented to nation’s top lineman or linebacker by the Rotary Club of Houston.

The announcement was made at the Rotary Lombardi Trophy Banquet on Wednesday in front of a live televised national audience on the CBS Sports Network at the Wortham Center in Houston. Donald was selected for the honor over three other finalists which included UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley and Missouri defensive end Michael Sam. The award is voted on by a national selection committee comprised of more than 400 voters.

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). The other finalists for the award included Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard, Florida State cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, Mosley and Sam.

“This is an incredible honor,” said Donald. “The name ‘Lombardi’ says it all. All of the finalists are such great players. I’m blessed to be chosen for this award.”

With his Nagurski victory, 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.

This is the fourth award Donald has won this month. In addition to the Nagurski Trophy honor, he previously 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.

 Donald’s national awards tour continues on Thursday, Dec. 12 where Donald will attend ESPN’s The Home Depot College Football Awards telecast from the Dance Hall on the Disney Boardwalk in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Donald is a finalist for two awards that will be presented on the show (which airs from 7 to 9 p.m.): the Chuck Bednarik Award, given to the college defensive player of the year, and Outland Trophy, given to the nation’s best offensive or defensive interior lineman.

Donald is one of three finalists for each award. The other Bednarik finalists are Barr and Mosley. Donald’s competition for the Outland Trophy includes Texas A&M senior offensive tackle Jake Matthews and Baylor senior offensive guard Cyril Richardson.

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 former Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong 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.