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December 11, 2013

Running late on this, I know.

On Monday Aaron Donald picked up the first of what has an excellent chance at being several more awards for everything he did this past season.

The Pittsburgh senior defensive tackle won the Bronko Nagurski award given to the nation’s top college defensive player.

The 6-foot, 285-pound Donald was presented the award at a ceremony Monday night in Charlotte.

The ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Donald averaged 2.2 tackles for loss per game while ranking 10th in forced fumbles and 13th in sacks per game.

He had 28½ sacks for his career with one game left to play.

“I’m just so excited,” Donald said. “I think it is a great way for my father to celebrate his birthday. And I think it’s huge for the University of Pittsburgh. There were so many people wishing me well.”

Tonight is the presentation for the Lombardi Award — best lineman or linebacker. On Thursday night, it’s the ESPN-centric extravaganza of college sports awards where Donald is up for the Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year) and the Outland Trophy (best offensive or defensive interior lineman).

Pitt hasn’t had a defensive player win national awards since Hugh Green in 1980 swept the Lombardi, Walter Camp and Maxwell awards.

Donald was happy to get the award on his dad’s birthday since he was the one that played such a huge role in instilling his work ethic. And his mom was just as proud.

As Donald walked up to collect the award, his mother stood, cheered and shouted, “Hail to Pitt!”

When his parents joined him on stage, before he was mobbed by TV cameras and photographers, Donald and his father shared a long embrace.

“I got my dad a nice birthday present today,” Donald said. “I’m truly humbled and truly blessed.”

Despite the chances at winning up to 4 national college awards, Donald was not even among the top-six vote recipients for the Heisman Trophy. So there is still room for outrage and claims of disrespect.


Well, Aaron has ALL my respect. Having “class” is an acquired skill, but it really helps to have mentors (Mom & Dad). I hope his ceiling is far from being reached!

Hail to AD, Hail to Pitt!

Comment by CompLit 12.11.13 @ 9:00 am

The BEST Defensive Player in the Nation does NOT play for Alabama or Auburn or Florida State or Ohio State, he plays for the University of Pittsburgh! How freakin awesome is that! Congratulations AD! Hail to Pitt!!

Comment by Panther Fan in Hoopieland 12.11.13 @ 9:03 am

This does prove that there are good kids playing at the top level of college football. Not all ego maniacs and thugs. We should be happy first and foremost that a good kid won this award (and hopefully a few more). That he plays for our team just makes it so much sweeter.

H2P Bowl over the Greens

Comment by pmdH2P 12.11.13 @ 9:29 am

Congrats to Aaron – he deserves all the accolades. A great player and a class act.

Off topic, but I just saw that Mack Brown is supposedly going to retire. Hmm, the AD that hired Fraud Graham at ASU recently took over as AD at Texas, and now they need a coach. I’m thinking there’s a good chance that the ASU fans are going to be crying in their beers in couple of weeks when Toddy Boy vanishes in the middle of the night and appears in Austin ready to accept his “dream job” back in Texas. Who will give odds?

Comment by Steve S 12.11.13 @ 9:32 am

Fraud won’t be allowed to walk in Mack’s shoes. UT has some integrity and isn’t stupid. They won’t make that mistake.

Not sure if Donald wins the Outland. He should clean up on the defensive awards however.

Comment by TX Panther 12.11.13 @ 9:41 am

The AD Heisman hype was total BS from the beginning. Interior defensive lineman from a mediocre team do not warrent Heisman attention unless contained in his resume are plays like he tipping a pass back to himself and running back a a pic six or fumble recoveries that are taken to the house for points. The Heisman is for the glory boys, running backs and QB’s and once in awhile a wide receiver, AKA Larry Fitzgerald.

Please don’t try to bring up Hugh Green to argue the point in Aaron’s defense, Aaron Donald is GREAT, Green was THE GREATEST! Still remember him as a true Freshman on a play where he literally launched himself over the defensive linemen attempting to block him to sack the QB without ever touching the ground in the backfield, simply a Superman move!

What makes Aaron’s accomplishments so impressive however is that he put up those stats while taking on double teams all season. If we had just one other guy in our front seven that had half the motor that Donald has, our defense would have been much much better overall this season.

In any case, Mylie Cyrus could have just as easily done her most recent video riding on Aaron’s shoulders in the buff because he was definitely a one man “wrecking ball” for Pitt during his entire career. Sweep the table, including the Outland Trophy Aaron, cause you da man!

Comment by Dr. Tom 12.11.13 @ 9:51 am

Great Job Aaron and way to show the professionalism and class as well. It’s a good day for the program.

Comment by Upittbaseball 12.11.13 @ 10:21 am

Awesome to see a great young man recognized for his accomplishment.

Comment by John 12.11.13 @ 10:25 am

What’s not to like about Mr Donald, on or off the field? He is a credit to his parents, his university, his city, and his conference.

BTW, note the difference in the number of responses to a negative occurrence (Henry) as opposed to this postive post. The same phenomenon happened on Panther Prey. I guess we Pitt Fans are among the most cynical (and with reason.)

Comment by wbb 12.11.13 @ 11:32 am


I would hope that we are just sumply frustrated and not truly cynical. While I hated some of our losses, I believe that a solid program is being built by Paul Chryst. I am optimistic that better times are coming.

Btw, I watched the Alabama/Auburn game and kept thinking how Pitt fans would be reacting if we had done the job Alabama did that day to give away the game. “We don’t pay the assistants enough and get bad play as a result.” “We need a special teams coach.” “It is the AD’s fault that we lost.”

H2P Bowl over the Greens

Comment by pmdH2P 12.11.13 @ 11:53 am

Just had to chime in on something this good. It is being said in many ways but it is so refreshing to see not only an outstanding player but such an outstanding young man who works above and beyond at excellence, reveres both his parents,honors his University and is so forthright and humble.I add hail to Pitt and Aaron Donald , a role model for the rest of this team.

Comment by Pitt 60 12.11.13 @ 12:15 pm

I usually avoid posting anything that merely reiterates what has already been said but, in this case, there can’t be enough posts about what AD has accomplished and how well he represents himself, his family and Pitt.

It has been an honor and a privilege to watch him develop as a player; to be able to bask in some reflected glory. Most importantly, it is truly inspiring to see someone so genuine, so humble and yet so accomplished and know that in some way Pitt contributed to his development as a man.

Congratulations to you Mr. Donald. Congratulations to your parents and your family.
All good things to you and them now and in the future.


Comment by Pitt Dad 12.11.13 @ 12:48 pm

Athlon Sports All ACC

Aaron Donald – Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All ACC defense

Tyler Boyd – Second Team All ACC offense

link to

Comment by Pitt Dad 12.11.13 @ 12:51 pm

He is a role model for the rest of the team. He reflects well on his parents and mentors. We have a lot of guys on this team who distinguish themselves personally and athletically. I am looking forward to the future. HTP!

Comment by barreman 12.11.13 @ 1:22 pm

Well deserved. Thrilled for Donald and his family, and a nice PR boost for the program. I look forward to seeing what Donald does at the next level. H2P.

Comment by Iron Duke 12.11.13 @ 1:27 pm

As everyone has said, it is great to see Donald get this recognition. It will be fun to watch him compete at the next level.

On another note, I’ve seen various mentions that the new AD at Texas (Patterson) hired Graham at ASU. That is not correct. Graham was hired by Lisa Love, who was fired a few months later.

Comment by Pantherman13 12.11.13 @ 1:48 pm

Yes, Lisa hired Todd.

Comment by Upittbaseball 12.11.13 @ 1:52 pm

Fingers crossed for Donald to pick up a few more awards. Not only because it puts Pitt in the focus, but mostly because it will help his NFL draft stock. I hope all of this national attention bumps him up into the early rounds. Heck, Baldwin got taken in the 1st round and I swear I don’t even know what team he’s on anymore… H2P and H2AD

Comment by MikePITT 12.11.13 @ 2:07 pm

Way to go AD…bring home the rest of the awards!

Comment by notrocketscience 12.11.13 @ 2:08 pm

Aaron Donald is the model of what Pitt Football is going to represent in the future. An unheralded, blue-collar guy who works, works, works and becomes and outstanding football player. Congratulations to him. What a great role model for the younger players on the squad.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 12.11.13 @ 2:09 pm

On top of all that, Aaron nicely fills out and looks totally comfortable in a neatly cut tuxedo. Good for him!

When I watched the Nagurski Awards on Monday night, I also saw somebody, who looked a lot like Coach Chryst, with his stuck out the top of a smart looking tux as well, singing the praises of Aaron Donald, but it couldn’t have been Chryst since we know that he is only allowed to wear sweatshirts. LOL!

Comment by Dr. Tom 12.11.13 @ 2:21 pm

@Dr Tom

Yeah, it couldn’t be Coach Chryst. Or, if it was, certainly someone would have pointed out that maybe his cumberbund was on upside down. I always have problems remembering if the folds are supposed to on the upside or the downside.

H2P Bowl over the Greens

Comment by pmdH2P 12.11.13 @ 2:37 pm

Off topic but don’t believe it was metioned yet on the Blather ..

Former Pitt Assistant Coach and good guy (despite being a PSU Alum) Greg Gattuso is now Head Coach at Albany.

He was an assistant past 3 years at Maryland

Comment by wbb 12.11.13 @ 3:24 pm

Great job by a great Panther! H2P!

Comment by Shawn 12.11.13 @ 3:47 pm

I saw that wbb, he’s come a long way from Duquesne.

Comment by alcofan 12.11.13 @ 3:59 pm

@ pmdH2P, the cumberbund pleats are supposed to point downward, although I’ve discovered that when worn in the reversed fashion it helps keep the bread cumbs from accumulating in the crotch of my tux trousers!

Comment by Dr. Tom 12.11.13 @ 4:00 pm


Comment by Dr. Tom 12.11.13 @ 4:01 pm

@Dt Tom

OK, I know we have strayed here. But, I have heard the opposite. That the pleats were placed there way back when with the idea of providing a small pocket for your tickets to the opera—or to the Outland Award ceremony to bring it a little closer to topic.


Comment by pmdH2P 12.11.13 @ 4:07 pm

The cummerbund is supposed to be worn pleats up. It is, in fact, designed to catch crumbs. Also to hold tickets. The only exception is the cummerbund worn with the US Army Dress Uniform which MUST be worn pleats down. US Army uniform regulations note that this is, in fact, wearing the cummerbund incorrectly.

Comment by Pitt Dad 12.11.13 @ 4:16 pm

panther94 i dont know were EMel is i am starting to worry .

Comment by Frankcan 12.11.13 @ 5:19 pm

EMel is probably with his lady friends. Too much testosterone on this site. He’ll come back around. Positive thoughts.

Comment by TX Panther 12.11.13 @ 5:22 pm

info for you off subject pat narduzzi told uconn he would not become there new head coach.
not becuse of what they would pay him but becuse they would not come up with enough money for his ASST coachs so pitt is not the only school that is cheap with a buck.

Comment by Frankcan 12.11.13 @ 5:55 pm

Sorry to cause theconfusion, just my inept attempt at humor, pleats up^

Comment by Dr. Tom 12.11.13 @ 5:59 pm

I too am concerned about EMel. I have his private email and sent him a note. No response.

Very concerned. Following Pitt sports is an addiction. Maybe he went to a Pittaholics anonomous meeting to break the spell.

Comment by Dan 72 12.11.13 @ 6:27 pm

Dan72 hope he is ok he is a good man hope he is not on rainbow bridge

Comment by Frankcan 12.11.13 @ 7:16 pm

I hope he’s ok, too.

Comment by panther94 12.11.13 @ 7:19 pm

if nick saban goes to texas will foster wonder if he did the right thing?

Comment by Frankcan 12.11.13 @ 7:30 pm

Will Foster come home? PLEASE do. The door is WIDE open.

Comment by TX Panther 12.11.13 @ 7:47 pm

Saban dealing with AL on contract with TX job open.

Comment by Frank MD 12.11.13 @ 8:36 pm

if nick saban stays at bama who will texas go after
TG from az state or maybe chryst what a joke.

Comment by Frankcan 12.11.13 @ 8:48 pm

TX talk includes Tomlin, Harbaugh, Saban. Dream on.

Comment by Frank MD 12.11.13 @ 8:53 pm

TX talk had Holgy goin to the University of the Alamo. Where he would coach Sam Bowie and Davie Crockett.

Comment by TX Panther 12.11.13 @ 9:08 pm

is it true that TG said Texas is his dream job and he rode into town with a orange tie rideing a cow

Comment by Frankcan 12.11.13 @ 9:11 pm

Anyway I can watch the presentation for the Lombardi Award online ?

Comment by Neil 12.11.13 @ 9:12 pm

Congrats to Aaron…

… oh, and was one of the critical 4 star recruits we absolutely have to get to survive???

He is a good example of picking wisely… we will see soon if this group does the same no matter the stars…

Comment by Pittscript 12.11.13 @ 9:37 pm

Big congratulations to Aaron Donald. 2013 Lombardi Award winner.

Not a bad haul at all for a kid whose three collegiate offers were Pitt, Rutgers and Toledo.

Comment by Stoosh 12.11.13 @ 10:08 pm

Two for two, the Outland is looking more obtainable by the day. Hail to Aaron and Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Dr. Tom 12.11.13 @ 10:13 pm

did he not make first team all american to night on usa today poll allso

Comment by Frankcan 12.11.13 @ 10:22 pm

Hard work = awards. Congratulations AD.

Comment by Frank MD 12.11.13 @ 10:28 pm

Aaron Donald = Class on and off the field. Such a great player and person represent Pitt at the next level.

I absolutley love his Mom shouting “Hail to Pitt!” that’s a clip that needs to be played for every recruit and during every home game next game.

Thank you for being a Panther, Aaron Donald.

Comment by Bowling Green Panther 12.11.13 @ 10:40 pm

To elaborate a little more, because quite frankly, I think Donald deserves as much recognition as he can get.

Aaron Donald committed to Pitt in April of 2009. Perhaps fittingly, he was the first WPIAL kid to commit to the 2010 class. I remember watching him on a Fox Sports Pittsburgh broadcast during his senior year. I think it was against Fox Chapel. He spent the entire night absolutely decimating their offensive line. He was unblockable. Comparisons to names like Sean Gilbert were tossed around, at least in terms of sheer dominance.

For whatever reason – I guess mostly because of his size – he had only three offers. Pitt. Rutgers. Toledo. Maybe it was because he committed relatively early to Pitt and he told other schools he wasn’t changing his mind. Maybe he just didn’t generate the interest.

Whatever it was didn’t matter.

Donald got to Pitt and immediately went to work. On a 2010 team with significant veteran defensive line depth, he worked his way into the two-deep. Forget the redshirt. He saw action in his very first collegiate game at Utah and never looked back.

Donald’s career at Pitt represented a lot of what is right about college football and frankly, what I wish we’d see more of among some players these days. As the last few years of his career played out and he emerged as a national talent, stories of his work ethic on and off the field emerged. And in the end, his career proved to be very simple – he was certainly a talented player to begin with, but his natural talents were exceeded by his work ethic.

We’ve been lucky because we’ve seen variations of this a few times the last decade or so – guys who came in however ballyhooed they may have been, played at high levels and in most cases, became great ambassadors for the program. Larry Fitzgerald. Lesean McCoy. Dion Lewis and Ray Graham. Now Aaron Donald.

My hope for the future of this program is that current and future players learn from his example. He didn’t necessarily have the ideal “measurables”, but he knew his strengths, he knew how to develop them, he let himself be coached and he prepared.

His career parallels an incredibly tumultuous time in Pitt football history – a period that wasn’t easy to watch at times as a fan of the program. But Donald’s play over the last three years has helped make it worth it. I can’t wait for the bowl game just because it’ll be one final chance to see him in a Pitt uniform.

Comment by Stoosh 12.11.13 @ 10:42 pm

This is awesome. Aaron Donald getting his due. He makes me proud to be a Panther, not that I need another reason.

Comment by panther94 12.11.13 @ 10:53 pm

I’m so proud of AD, not just because he’s won 2 awards but because of the way he’s carried himself and represented the university. A real bright spot for the football program, too. Way to go Aaron! We will miss you next year. I hope some of the younger players follow your footsteps and are willing to put in the extra work necessary to achieve great things.

Comment by Annie 12.12.13 @ 12:51 am

Pitt will miss his leadership. Which players will step up next year? It’s a shame AD played on such poor teams and went through all these coaching changes. All the more remarkable.

It would be nice to see him rewarded with going in the first round but he’s probably a solid second round pick and worst case slips to the third round. Unless his trials or pro day is spectacular, his size will go against him. Great motor, heart and head.

Comment by TX Panther 12.12.13 @ 7:24 am

There is a line I use in my coaching – “good is the enemy of great.” Mr. Donald, you are truly a great college player and I wish you all the best in the NFL and life.

Comment by rayhpgh 12.12.13 @ 7:59 am

AD is a beast and deserves every honor he is getting. He also deserves to be at the Heisman ceremony. He had a much better year than Teo and he was at least as good as Suh. I think whoever drafts AD in the 2nd or 3rd round will be getting a steal.

Comment by Wardapalooza 12.12.13 @ 8:05 am

They will be getting a leader and man of great character. And a pretty decent hard nosed football player.

Comment by TX Panther 12.12.13 @ 8:07 am

Aaron Donald..a class act.

So proud of him in high school….@ Pitt. ….and we’ll be proud of him in the NFL, too. 🙂

Comment by The TRUTH 12.12.13 @ 8:14 am

OK, question for those of you who understand the rules.

If Baker Mayfield, who is a walk on with no scholarship, leaves Texas Tech and comes to Pitt, can he play right away or does he have to sit out a year?

H2P and H2AD

Comment by pmdH2P 12.12.13 @ 8:33 am

My guess would be that he can play ASAP

Comment by wbb 12.12.13 @ 9:44 am

Well said/written, Stoosh.

Comment by steve1 12.12.13 @ 10:18 am

@ Tx Panther, this comment is not to infer, in the least, any disrespect to Aaron Donald, but I wonder how much of a leader Aaron actually was for the Panthers. I don’t know the man personally, but in following him as a Pitt fan I always got the impression that he was a little introverted. If he did provide substantial leadership, it seems to me that it was the low profile type that involved “actions speaking louder than words”.

He stikes me as the kind of individual that simply out works everybody else and has overcome his lack of God given natural ability or physical gifts with unlimited training and dedication to a regimented work ethic. Now, how does that translate to providing inspiration and leadership to the rest of the team is my question? A fine example to be followed for sure, but it is wasted on those type individuals that fail to pay attention to the process involved in what it takes in the making of a champion like Donald has become.

For example, I doubt that Rushel Shell ever considered Aaron’s work ethic as a quality to be emulated and adapted into his own character, if you know what I mean?

Hopefully Chryst is filling the Panther ranks with the kind of kids that WILL appreciate the opportunity that they’ve had to share the weight room, practice field and locker room with such a rare individual as Aaron Donald though, because guys like him only come along rarely, even in the elite programs like the Ohio States and Alabamas.

Hard to beat a team that has a dedicated work ethic and perserverence, even when their overall talent level is less than ideal. I hope that the “Donald Factor” hangs around in the heads of the upcoming young bloods who were fortunate enough to personally know and play with the guy, if so, that can’t do anything but help the mindset of this team going forward.

Comment by Dr. Tom 12.12.13 @ 10:28 am

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