McKillop Among Nation's Best

Pitt fifth-year senior middle linebacker Scott McKillop has been named the Walter Camp Football Foundation National Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in the Panthers' 26-21 upset win against No. 10 South Florida this past Thursday in Tampa, Fla.

Scott McKillop (Export, Pa.-Kiski Area High School) collected a team-high 12 tackles -- all solo -- and had two quarterback sacks, three total tackles behind the line and snuffed out a fake field goal against the Bulls. He played a prominent role in grounding one of the country's most powerful offenses, including elusive quarterback Matt Grothe.

"Grothe is a great player,'' Pitt redshirt sophomore defensive end Greg Romeus said. "He's very slippery. One time, I had his shirt, but he got away. If you can't wrap him up, he'll get loose. So, you just have to get a piece of him and hope you get help.

"We have a lot of leaders on this defense, and guys like Scott McKillop keep us going on the sideline. The offense did a nice job to get the lead back, and I'm just glad that Scott and the defense stepped up at the end to win the game.''

USF entered the game averaging 464 yards in total offense, but produced just 245 against Pittsburgh. Grothe was sacked twice by McKillop for losses totaling 24 yards with both sacks coming at critical junctures.

McKillop's first sack went for a loss of 10 yards, ending a USF threat at the Pitt 43 in the third quarter and forced a punt. The second was a 14-yard sack with less than four minutes remaining 3rd-and-three. USF was forced to punt and Pitt was able to burn the clock down to 22 seconds and ultimately claim a victory.

McKillop also thwarted a fake field goal in the second quarter, stopping Gregory Grant for a one-yard gain on fourth-and-five at the Pitt 29. The Panthers responded to McKillop's stop with a 72-yard touchdown drive to take a 14-7 lead.

"We watched a lot of film on (Grothe), and we worked on it in practice all week,'' Pitt freshman outside linebacker Greg Williams said. "We know he likes to run a lot. You have to respect his passing, but he can really hurt you with his speed. But our scout team quarterbacks gave us a good look in practice, and we were ready for it.

"We came together on the sideline after they scored a touchdown, and all our leaders -- Scott McKillop, Eric Thatcher, guys like that -- told us we need to step up our game. And we really got fired up after that. I think we're playing better with every game. ... We work hard in practice every day, and that carries over to the games.''

A strong candidate for college football's most prestigious defensive honors, McKillop ranks third nationally in solo stops (7.4 solos per game) and 13th in total tackles (tied, 10.40 tackles per game). He leads the Big East in both categories, as well as tackles for loss (1.80 per game).

The country's leading tackler a year ago (12.58 average), McKillop was a 2007 unanimous first-team All-Big East selection and was named to four All-America teams. For more information on McKillop, go to www.ScottMcKillop40.com.

On the strength of its four consecutive wins, Pitt (4-1, 2-0 Big East) surged back into the Associated Press Top 25 today at No. 24. The Panthers are receiving votes in the USA Today coaches poll and basically are No. 33.

Pitt has a bye this week and will be back in action Oct. 18 at Navy (4-2). The game will kick off at 3:30 p.m., and be nationally televised by CBS College Sports Network.

About the Award: This is the fifth straight year that the Walter Camp Football Foundation will honor one offensive and one defensive player as its national Bowl Subdivision players of the week during the regular season. Recipients are selected by a panel of national media members and administered by the Walter Camp Football Foundation.

The Pitt Media Relations Department contributed to this story.

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