Calling him "the game's most complete runner,'' Sporting News College Football 2010 lists Dion Lewis among its five top candidates for this year's Heisman.
The nation's top returning rusher, Lewis is among two running backs named preseason first team All-America by Sporting News, joining Alabama's Mark Ingram, the 2009 Heisman recipient.
Four Pitt players overall made the Sporting News Preseason All-America Team. In addition to Lewis, senior offensive tackle Jason Pinkston (first team), senior defensive end Greg Romeus (second team) and junior receiver Jon Baldwin (third team) were honored.
In its team predictions, the annual picked the Panthers to win the Big East championship and go BCS bowling this year. Pitt was tabbed 19th in SN's preseason Top 25.
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 postseason All-America teams and also earned Big East Offensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors.
Lewis' running style and high production sparked comparisons to some of the top backs in school history. He finished with 1,799 yards and 17 touchdowns on 325 carries (5.5 average), the second highest yardage in Pitt history. Only the legendary Tony Dorsett, who eclipsed 2,000 yards during his 1976 Heisman Trophy campaign, rushed for more yards in a single season at Pitt.
Pinkston (Pittsburgh, Pa./Baldwin) enters his third season as a starting offensive tackle at Pitt. As a junior, he was selected first team All-Big East and garnered second-team All-America accolades. The Panthers have produced a 1,000-yard rusher each year he has been a starter.
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 PAT.
Romeus was named 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 avg.) with eight touchdowns. A big play waiting to happen, he had touchdown catches of 79 and 71 yards as well as a 61-yard rush last year. Baldwin was one of only 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 produced 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 on Dec. 1, 2007 – the first victory over a team ranked No. 1 in school history.
Pitt will play one of the most-anticipated season openers in the country in 2010 when it travels to Utah for a Sept. 2 game. The Panthers and Utes kick off at 8:30 p.m. (ET) for a national telecast on Versus.
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