According to Lindy's Football Preview, Pittsburgh should win the Big East Conference and earn a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) berth. The Panthers are ranked 14th in the magazine's preseason Top 25.
"We have a lot of guys coming back, so I'm not surprised that we'd be ranked in the preseason,'' Pitt redshirt junior outside linebacker Max Gruder said. "But we haven't done anything yet to earn that. So, we can't wait to get back on the field to prove that we're as good as people think we are.''
Individually, three Panthers were named to the Lindy's All-America Team. Sophomore running back Dion Lewis and fifth-year senior defensive end Greg Romeus were named first team All-Americans, while junior wideout Jonathan Baldwin was a second-team selection.
The 5-foot-8, 195-pound Lewis (Albany, N.Y./Blair Academy, N.J.) ranked third nationally in rushing last year (138.38 yards per game). He was named to eight post-season All-America teams and also earned Big East Offensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors.
Lewis' running style and productivity sparked comparisons to many top backs in Pitt's history. He finished with 1,799 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns on 325 carries (5.5 per rush), the second-highest yardage in Pitt annals. Only the legendary Tony Dorsett, who eclipsed 2,000 yards during his 1976 Heisman Trophy campaign, rushed for more yardage in a single season with the Panthers.
Romeus (Coral Springs, Fla./Coral Glades) was the 2009 Big East Co-Defensive Player of the Year (shared with graduated teammate Mick Williams) after collecting 43 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and a team-high eight sacks. He additionally had three forced fumbles, an interception, a fumble recovery and blocked point after touchdown (PAT).
The 6-foot-6, 270-pound Romeus was a finalist for the 2009 Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award and additionally was selected to three different All-America teams, including CollegeFootballNews.com (second team), Sporting News (third team) and Rivals (third team).
Baldwin (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa) was a first-team All-Big East performer after compiling 57 catches for 1,111 yards (19.5 yards per catch) with eight touchdowns. A big play waiting to happen, Baldwin had touchdown catches for 79 and 71 yards, as well as a 61-yard run on an end-around last year.
Baldwin was among just three receivers nationally to top 1,000 yards and average at least 19.5 yards per reception in 2009.
Over the past two seasons, Pitt has recorded 19 wins, the second-highest total in the Big East and among the top 25 nationally. The Panthers are 20-7 (.741) over their last 27 games, dating back to the landmark 13-9 upset at West Virginia Dec. 1, 2007 — the first victory over a team ranked No. 1 in school history. WVU was second in most polls.
Pitt plays a highly-anticipated season-opener with a road game against Utah Sept. 2. The Panthers and Utes kick off at 8:30 p.m. (ET) for a national telecast on Versus.
Pitt Has Solid Preseason Ranking
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