CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Pitt senior defensive tackle Aaron Donald has been named the winner of 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 announcement was made at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet on Monday evening at the Charlotte Westin Hotel. Donald was chosen as the winner by the FWAA All-America Committee. The other finalists for the award included Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard, Florida State cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley and Missouri defensive end Michael Sam.
"This is an incredible honor and I could not be more appreciative," Donald said. "All of the other finalists are unbelievable players and I feel blessed to be here with them this evening. On behalf of my coaches, teammates and family, I want to thank the Charlotte Touchdown Club and Football Writers for selecting me the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy."
"Aaron Donald has played at a high level this entire season," said Pitt head coach Paul Chryst, who was in Charlotte for the presentation. "He is a very deserving recipient of this honor and our entire program is extremely proud of him."
Donald is 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 second award Donald has won this month. He previously was selected the 2013 Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year by the Atlantic Coast Conference Sports Media Association (ACSMA).
Donald's national awards tour continues to two more stops this week.
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.
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.