The players fueled Pitt to a Bowl Championship Series berth last season and now are considered among the nation's elite players.
Lee (Tampa, Fla./Chamberlain) was named the nation's No. 1 receiver and a first team All-American by Collegefootballnews.com. The accolades for the junior split end are not surprising considering his prolific 2004 season.
A largely overlooked recruit out of high school, Lee burst from anonymity last year to rank fifth nationally with 1,297 receiving yards. He totaled 68 receptions and 10 touchdowns, while averaging 19.1 yards per catch.
Like Larry Fitzgerald and Antonio Bryant before him, Lee has the talent to make a run at this year's Biletnikoff Award, annually presented to the nation's top receiver. Fitzgerald won the award in 2003, while Bryant won it in 2000.
Palko (Imperial, Pa./West Allegheny) was named the Big East's No. 1 overall player by Collegefootballnews.com. As a first-year starter last year, Palko threw for a Pitt sophomore-record 3,067 yards and earned a reputation for producing late heroics by engineering five victories in the fourth quarter or overtime.
Palko threw 24 touchdowns versus just seven interceptions on the year. His most memorable performance came at Notre Dame when he threw five touchdown passes and guided Pitt on a pair of late scoring drives to upend the Irish, 41-38. He became the first quarterback to ever throw five TDs versus Notre Dame.
In addition to Palko, Lee was named the Big East's third overall player and linebacker H.B. Blades (Plantation, Fla./Plantation) was the league's seventh-ranked player. Blades, who also owns a rising national reputation, led Pitt with 108 tackles last year and was the lone sophomore defender named first team All-Big East.
The Panthers open their first season under new head coach Dave Wannstedt with a highly anticipated encounter versus Notre Dame at Heinz Field Sept. 3. Season-ticket prices for the majority of seats range from $85 to $144. Seats in the amenity-filled club section are $240 (with commensurate Panther Club contribution). For more ticket information, call (800) 643-PITT.