Pitt: Countdown to Kickoff 2013



DT Aaron Donald and WR Devin Street have been among the Panthers' most highlighted and discussed players as Pitt prepares for its first season of ACC competition … Donald has been named to watch lists for Lombardi Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Bednarik Award, Ronnie Lott IMPACT Trophy and the Outland Trophy … He also was selected a preseason All-American by Lindy's Sports and Phil Steele … Street is a candidate for the Biletnikoff Award, given annually to the nation's top receiver … Street enters his senior year with 151 career receptions to rank sixth all-time at Pitt … He needs just 28 more catches to surpass Latef Grim (178 receptions from 1998-2000) as the top pass-catcher in school history …Street's 2,047 career receiving yards rank 10th at Pitt … He needs 1,015 yards this season to eclipse Antonio Bryant (3,061 yards from 1999-2001) as the Panthers' career leader … senior S Jason Hendricks, who led the Panthers in both tackles and interceptions last year, was voted to the Preseason All-ACC team.

Numbers & Notes

3 - Pitt returns this fall three players who earned selection to the All-Big East football team in 2012.  Senior DT Aaron Donald earned first-team all-Big East honors last fall while senior WR Devin Street and senior S Jason Hendricks were both second-team all-Big East honorees.

9 - Pitt has been named national champions in football a total of nine times, including three unanimous national title choices in 1916, 1918 and 1976. The Panthers also weere named national champs in 1915, 1929, 1931 and 1934 by Parke H. Davis, as well as 1936 by Ilustrated Football Annual and The Football Thesaurus and 1937 by AP and six other rating systems.

18.5 - Pitt DT Aaron Donald led the Big East in 2012 in tackles for loss with 18.5 tackles for loss. Donald was a 3rd-team All-America selection by Phil Steele’s preseason Magazine.

23 - Is the number of former Pitt players and coaches who have been elected into the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. Included are two former coaches in Glenn “Pop” Warner and Jock Sutherland and some other icons of the the game such as Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett, Joe Schmidt, Johnny Majors, Dan Marino, Mark May and Hugh Green.

2,211 - Though he may make his first career start for Pitt this fall, junior QB Tom Savage threw for 2,211 yards as the starting signal caller at Rutgers in 2009.

2012 In Review
In its final season in the Big East and its first year under head coach Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh started slowly, but finished strongly en route to a 6-7 overall mark, a 3-4 conference record and a 5th-place Big East finish...But the Panthers were very close to so much more, dropping four games by a total of 21 points including a heartbreaking triple overtime loss to eventual National Championship Game participant Notre Dame and a one-point loss at fellow 2013 ACC entrant Syracuse...Ironically, the turnaround game for Chryst and the Panthers was a decisive 35-17 upset of future fellow Coastal Division member Virginia Tech...Pitt won six of its final 11 games and four of its final seven, to earn a berth in the BBVA Compass Bowl behind the play of QB Tino Sunseri, TB Ray Graham, WR’s Devin Street and Mike Shanahan and an effective defensive unit led by DT Aaron Donald and Ss Jason Hendricks and Jarred Holley... Sunseri finished 2nd in the Big East in pass efficiency (151.52) and 3rd in passing yards per game...Graham, who rushed for 1,042 yards, and Donald, who led the Big East with 18.5 tackles for loss, were first-team All-Big East selections, while Shanahan and Street, Hendricks and C Ryan Turnley earned 2nd-team all-Big East honors.

Who’s Gone
The Panthers lost 23  lettermen, including 9 starters; five on offense, three on defense and PK Kevin Harper....Gone are QB Sunseri, a three-year starter; TB Graham, who finished his career with 3,271 rushing yards, 2nd most in Panther history as well as his backup Rushel Shell; WR Shanahan, C Turnley and G Chris Jacobson...Defensively, Pitt will be without SS Holley, the team’s 2nd-leading tackler (75 hits), DB Eric Williams and DE Shayne Hale.

2013 Preview
Chryst welcomes back 42 lettermen and 15 starters, including eight from Pitt’s defense which ranked 17th nationally in total defense, 23rd in scoring defense and 21st in pass efficiency defense led by DT Aaron Donald, who led the Big East with 18.5 tackles  for loss...Joining Donald upfront are starting NT Tyler Ezell (3 sacks) and DE Brian Murphy (4.5 TFLs) with Ohio State transfer David Durham emerging as the starter at the other end spot...and freshman Shakir Soto battling for the other end position...Sophomore DT Darryl Render, junior NT LaQuentin Smith and sophomore DE Devon Cook (8 TFLs) are also competing for playing time....The back of the defense has a veteran look as well three of four members of the secondary returning in CBs Lafayette Pitts and K’Waun Williams and all-Big East FS Jason Hendricks (90 tackles, 6 Ints)... Junior letterman Ray Vinopal ended spring as the starter at the SS position...Pitt also returns two of three starting linebackers in MLB Shane Gordon (48 tackles) and WLB Todd Thomas (59) with junior Anthony Gonzalez leading for the the SLB post.... It is on offense where Pitt has a great deal to replace with transfer QB Tom Savage, a former starter for Rutgers, heading into the fall as the replacement for Sunseri, with junior Trey Anderson and redshirt freshman Chad Voytik also available...Although three starters return to the offensive line in Ts Cory King and Matt Rotheram and G Ryan Schlieper, none will open the fall at their old positions with King and Rotheram moving inside to man the guard positions...Their tackle spots were filled in the spring by redshirt freshman Adam Bisnowaty and DE convert T.J. Clemmings with senior Juantez Hollins and possibly incoming freshman Dorian Johnson in reserve..Redshirt freshman Gabe Roberts emerged as the starter at center...At tailback, the departure of Graham and Shells leaves a big hole to fill...Junior Isaac Bennett heads into the fall as the starter with sophomore Malcolm Crockett and senior Desmond Brown competing for playing time...Starting FB Mark Giubilato returns...WR Devin Street should be one of the best in the nation this fall after making 73 catches last year...He heads a receiver corps which includes sophomore TE J.P Holtz, who made an impact as a true freshman last year...Holtz  is joined by true freshman Scott Orndoff, while senior Ed Tinker leads junior Ronald Jones for the starting WR position opposite Street.