Donald Named ACC Defensive Player of the Year

Aaron Donald earns 44 out of a possible 65 votes in being named ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He is the fourth Pitt defensive lineman to earn, or share, a conference Defensive Player of the Year since 2009.

To this week of the season, all Aaron Donald's accomplishments have been in the form of watch lists.

Things start to change a little bit this week. Monday, Donald was named first-team All-ACC at defensive tackle. Wednesday, he was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year.

"There are some great defensive players in the ACC, so to be selected for this award is a tremendous honor," Donald said. "I would like to thank my Pitt coaches and teammates because they share in this award. I'd also like to thank ACSMA for recognizing not only me but also Pitt with this honor."

The award is voted on by the ACSMA (Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association). Donald received 44 out of a possible 65 votes for the award. Wake Forest nose guard Nikita Whitlock received the second-most votes with 10, followed by Florida State corner Lamarcus Joyner with eight, Boston College linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis with two and Florida State safety Terrence Brooks with one.

Donald also continues a string of success of some recent Pitt defensive linemen. Jabaal Sheard, now of the Cleveland Browns, was the 2010 Big East Defensive Player of the Year. Mick Williams and Greg Romeus shared Big East Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2009.

He leads the nation in tackles for loss (2.2 per game), while ranking 12th in forced fumbles (tied, 0.33 per game) and 16th in sacks (tied, 0.83 per game). Of his 54 total tackles, nearly half have been behind the line of scrimmage (26.5). His 28.5 sacks for his collegiate career, the second most among active players and the highest total by an interior lineman.

Donald is also a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Chuck Bednarik Award, Outland Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Award.

On Monday, Dec. 9, he will be in Charlotte, N.C., for the presentation of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, presented to the nation's most outstanding defensive player. Donald is one of five finalists for the honor, joining Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard, Florida State cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley and Missouri defensive end Michael Sam.

On Wednesday, Dec. 11, Donald will be in Houston, Texas, for the Rotary Lombardi Award banquet, which honors college football's top lineman or linebacker. The other finalists are Mosley, Sam and UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr.

On Thursday, Dec. 12, 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.

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