Another day, another award for Aaron Donald, as the Pitt senior defensive tackle took home the 2013 Rotary Lombardi Award at a ceremony in Houston Wednesday night.
The Lombardi Award is presented annually to the nation's top lineman - on either side of the ball - or lineman. Donald bested UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley and Missouri defensive end Michael Sam.
Donald is just the second Pitt player in history to win the Lombardi Award and the first since Hugh Green took home the honors in 1980.
The Lombardi was Donald's second major national award of the week, as he was also named the 2013 winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, presented to the nation's top defensive player. He was the first Pitt player to win the Nagurski, and to do so he beat out Mosley, Sam, Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard and Florida State defensive back Lamarcus Joyner.
And Donald earned both awards without the benefit of a nationally-relevant team. While Pitt managed a 6-6 record this season, the other finalists came from teams that won at least nine games in 2013. And only Anthony Barr's team - UCLA - settled for that nine-win plateau. Michael Sam and Missouri went 11-2 and played in the SEC title game; C.J. Mosley and Alabama were 11-1; Darqueze Dennard and Michigan State won the Big Ten championship with a 12-1 record; and Lamarcus Joyner and Florida State are headed to the national championship game with a perfect 13-0 performance.
Donald's team lost six games this season and was not on the national radar, but with 26.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and some dominant performances like the Georgia Tech game - 11 tackles, all solo, and six tackles for loss - the Penn Hills native grabbed the attention of national college football observers.
Donald was considered a dark horse candidate for the Heisman Trophy but didn't make the cut for the ceremony in New York City. He is a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player) and Outland Trophy (best interior lineman); those two awards will be presented Thursday night at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show.
No Pitt player has won the Bednarik Award, and Mark May is the only Panther to claim the Outland Trophy (May won in 1980). Tony Dorsett, Hugh Green and Larry Fitzgerald are the only Pitt players to win at least two major national awards prior to Donald.
Additionally, Donald was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association and the conference coaches, and he was a first-team All-ACC selection. During the season, he collected five national defensive player of the week honors - most centering around his performance at Georgia Tech - and two ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week awards.
Donald was also named to the USA Today Sports All-America first team on Wednesday.
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