The countdown to the start of the 2013 season is under way, as Pitt is 88 days away from its Labor Day opener against Florida State at Heinz Field. Panther-Lair.com is counting down the days until the biggest season opener in recent memory.
Today's number is 88, so we're looking at the first-team All-Americans in Pitt football history.
The primary five organizations that name All-American teams as recognized by the NCAA are the Associated Press, the Football Writers Association of America, the Sporting News, the American Football Coaches Association, and the Walter Camp Football Foundation. Since 1914, 72 Pitt football players have been first-team selections on at least one of the nationally-recognized All-America teams; including repeat selections, Pitt has had a total of 88 first-team All-Americans.
Of Pitt's 88 All-American selections, 49 have been consensus All-Americans (selected by at least three of those organizations) and 13 have been named unanimous All-Americans (selected by all five). Not surprisingly, those 13 have been among the best players in Pitt football history:
Gilbert Welch - Back, 1927
Joe Donchess - End, 1929
Warren Heller - Back, 1932
Marshall Goldberg - Back, 1938
Joe Walton - End, 1956
Mike Ditka - End, 1960
Tony Dorsett - Running back, 1976
Hugh Green - Defensive end, 1979
Hugh Green - Defensive end, 1980
Mark May - Offensive tackle, 1980
Bill Fralic - Offensive tackle, 1983
Bill Fralic - Offensive tackle, 1984
Larry Fitzgerald - Wide receiver, 2003
A few notes on Pitt's All-Americans:
- In case anyone needed further evidence of how great Green and Fralic were during their Pitt careers, there it is. Both had multiple unanimous All-American selections.
- It's also worth noting that Green and Fralic each had a third All-America selection in their careers; Green was a consensus choice in 1978, and Fralic was an All-American in 1982.
- Dorsett was Pitt's only four-time All-American, earning first-team honors in 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1976. But his final season was the only time Dorsett was a consensus or unanimous selection.
- 11 Pitt players have multiple All-America selections on their resumes:
Tony Dorsett (1973, 1974, 1975, 1976)
Bill Fralic (1982, 1983, 1984)
Hugh Green (1978, 1979, 1980)
Robert Peck (1914, 1915, 1916)
Jimbo Covert (1981, 1982)
George McLaren (1917, 1918)
Bill Daddio (1937, 1938)
Tom Davies (1918, 1920)
Marshall Goldberg (1937, 1938)
Joe Skaldany (1932, 1933)
Herb Stein (1920, 1921)
- It's no wonder Pitt enjoyed so much success from 1976-82. The Panthers had 18 first-team All-America selections in those seven seasons. That run of All-Americans is unmatched in Pitt history.
- On the flip side, it's not too difficult to see why Pitt struggled from the 1940's until the mid-1970's. The Panthers had a total of nine All-Americans in the 34-year span from 1939-72. There were only two Pitt All-Americans in the 1940's, four in the 1950's, and three in the 1960's. Granted, some of those players rank among the greatest Panthers of all time - Mike Ditka, for instance - but the general lack of outstanding players directly contributed to those lean years of Pitt football.
- The record for most Pitt All-American selections on a single season is four; that mark was reached in 1916, 1917, 1929, 1937, 1977, and 1981. The last time Pitt had multiple All-Americans in a single season was 1988, when Mark Stepnoski and Jerry Olsavsky were selected.
- Pitt has not had an All-American since 2010, when defensive end Jabaal Sheard was named to the first team, as well as Big East Defensive Player of the Year.
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