The Big East announced its postseason awards on Thursday. Pitt running back Ray Graham and safety Jarred Holley each earned a spot on the first-team.
It's an impressive feat for Graham to make first-team, despite having missed the last four games and all of the UConn game except for two plays. Up until his season-ending knee injury against UConn on October 26, Graham's rushing total was still good enough to finish fourth among all conference backs. He rushed for 958 yards on 164 carries (5.8 avg) with 9 touchdowns.
It's the second time for Holley earning All-Big East honors. A second-teamer a year ago, Holley moves up to the first-team after finishing with 64 tackles, five tackles for losses and two sacks. With nine career interceptions, Holley is Pitt's active career leader in that category.
Pitt also placed four second-teamers—all four on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive linemen Chas Alecxih and Aaron Donald, linebacker Max Gruder and cornerback Antwuan Reed earned a spot on the all-conference list. It's the first all-conference honors for all.
Alecxih anchored the defensive line, where he finished with 54 tackles, 13.5 tackles for losses and 5.5 sacks. He also had five quarterback hurries, for pass breakups, two forced fumbles and an interception—the first of his career which came against Buffalo. Alecxih returned the pick 47 yards.
Donald—who earlier Thursday was named a second-team All-America by FoxSportsNext.com—earned a spot despite not making his first start until Week 8 against Cincinnati. He played in all 12 games with just four starts, yet still led the team with 10 sacks, 15 tackles for losses and 14 quarterback hurries.
Gruder led the team in tackles, finishing with 107 tackles in the regular season. His 8.9 tackles per game is second among all Big East defenders. He's the first Pitt defensive player to finish with over 100 tackles in a season since Scott McKillop racked up 137 tackles in 2008.
Reed, the senior corner, earned the first postseason mark of his career after registering 29 tackles and seven pass breakups this season. Reed also scored two touchdowns this season—one on a blocked punt against Utah, and another on a fumble recovery which helped seal the win over Syracuse. His blocked punt return for a touchdown was Pitt's first in 20 years.
West Virginia led the way with seven first-teamers, followed by Cincinnati with six, Syracuse with five, Rutgers with four and Pitt and Louisville each with two. South Florida did not place any players on the first-team. Overall, West Virginia had ten all-conference selections, followed by UConn with nine, Rutgers and Cincinnati with eight, Syracuse with seven, Pitt and South Florida with six each and Louisville with three.
Cincinnati's Butch Jones was named Coach of the Year, while its running back Isaiah Pead was named Offensive Player of the Year. Bearcat defensive lineman Derek Wolfe shared Defensive Player of the Year honors with Rutgers linebacker Khaseem Greene. West Virginia's Tavon Austin was named Special Teams Player of the Year, and Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was named Rookie of the Year.