Never before had one program won all three ACC Rookie of the Year awards: Overall, Defensive and Offensive. That changed Tuesday.
Jordan Whitehead was named the Overall and Defensive ACC Rookie of the Year. Qadree Ollison earned the Offensive distinction, the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association announced.
"Our entire program takes great pride in these well-deserved honors for Jordan and Qadree," Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said in a release. "Even though they are freshmen, we gave them a lot of responsibility this season and they responded in outstanding fashion."
Whitehead, a local product out of Central Valley in Aliquippa, Pa., led the Panthers with 99 tackles which marked the highest total from a Pitt freshman since 1987. His 8.2 tackles per game ranked eighth in the ACC and Whitehead was the only freshman to finish among the league's top 10 tacklers.
"I’m very appreciative of this recognition from ACSMA," Whitehead said. "No one accomplishes anything alone and I want to thank my coaches and teammates at both Pitt and Central Valley, and definitely my mom and dad for all they have done for me. I want to give a special shout out to my teammate Lafayette Pitts, who has been a big help to me from the time I arrived at Pitt."
Ollison entered the 2015 season buried behind James Conner and Chris James on the depth chart at running back but took advantage of the opportunity given after Conner suffered a season-ending knee injury in Pitt opener. The redshirt freshman went on to become Pitt's fifth freshman to rush for 1,000 yards, and his 1,048 yards were the seventh-most by a freshman in ACC history.
"I’m grateful and humbled to receive this honor from ACSMA," Ollison said. "This recognition goes way beyond me. Big credit goes to my coaches, teammates—especially our offensive line—and my family and friends in Niagara Falls for their support and belief in me."
Whitehead and Ollison finished No. 1 and 2 overall in Rookie of the Year voting. Whitehead garnered 19 votes while Ollison's nine put him ahead of Florida State defensive back Derwin James and Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Whitehead won the Defensive Rookie of the Year by a landslide, taking 28 of the 50 votes. James finished as the runner-up with 11.
Ollison also won his award in commanding fashion, earning 23 votes. Virginia Tech running back Travon McMillian was second with eight.
"Their production on the field speaks for itself," Narduzzi said of his award-winners. "More importantly, both Jordan and Qadree grew as leaders for our team."
Pitt has now had a player win a league Player of the Year award in each of its first three seasons in the ACC. Aaron Donald was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, followed by Conner's Player of the Year honors last season.