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December 4, 2013

Donald named Defensive Player of the Year

Aaron Donald made his first and only season in the ACC a memorable one, and on Wednesday the Pitt senior defensive tackle received the highest honor when he was named the conference Defensive Player of the Year.

Donald received 44 of 65 votes from members of the Atlantic Coast Conference Sports Media Association. After not being selected to the preseason All-ACC team, he was twice named ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week during the season and earned first-team All-ACC honors earlier this week.

In addition to being named Defensive Player of the Year, Donald also received four votes for ACC Player of the Year.

"There are some great defensive players in the ACC, so to be selected for this award is a tremendous honor," Donald said in a Pitt press release. "I would like to thank my Pitt coaches and teammates because they share in this award. I'd also like to thank ACSMA for recognizing not only me but also Pitt with this honor."

Donald is also a finalist for the Outland Trophy, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Chuck Bednarik Award and the Rotary Lombardi Award.

The Penn Hills native had one of the most dominant seasons in recent memory for Pitt in 2013, recording an astounding 26.5 tackles for loss to lead the conference and the nation, as well as 10 sacks, two pass breakups, 16 quarterback hurries and a blocked extra point against Syracuse that turned out to be a deciding factor in Pitt's 17-16 win over the Orange.

And Donald did all of that while playing on a defensive line that struggled to make any impact on the backfield. To wit, the rest of Pitt's defensive linemen in 2013 combined to record 18 tackles for loss and 5 sacks.

Donald is the first Pitt player to earn conference player of the year honors since defensive end Jabaal Sheard was named Big East Defensive Player of the Year in 2010.

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