The Pitt football team will feature two of the nation's finest players this season according to Lindy's 2008 College Football Preview.
Senior linebacker Scott McKillop has been named a first team All-American by Lindy's, while sophomore tailback LeSean McCoy was named a second team All-American. McCoy additionally was named the Big East's Offensive Player of the Year, while incoming freshman receiver and Aliquippa High product Jonathan Baldwin was named the conference's Newcomer of the Year by the magazine.
In its preseason Top 25, Lindy's rated Pitt No. 23 and wrote, "Given how strong the defense should be, if the offense comes together quickly, the Panthers could challenge for the Big East title."
Having two of the country's top players at their respective positions can help make those lofty predictions a reality. McKillop was described by Lindy's as "just always around the ball," while McCoy was lauded as "the best Pitt RB since Tony Dorsett."
McKillop (Export, Pa./Kiski Area) is coming off an outstanding junior campaign in which he led the nation in tackles, averaging 12.58 per game, and finished second in solos (8.17 avg.). He received a slew of postseason honors in 2007, including selection to four different All-America squads. McKillop additionally was a unanimous first-team All-Big East pick by the league's coaches and CollegeFootballNews.com's Big East Defensive Player of the Year.
The centerpiece of one of Pitt's finest defenses in recent memory, McKillop spearheaded a unit that finished fifth nationally in total defense, yielding just 297.67 yards per game.
This is the latest preseason honor for McKillop, who previously was named a first team All-American by NationalChamps.net. He will also be a highly viable candidate for such prestigious national honors as the Rotary Lombardi Award (nation's top lineman or linebacker), Butkus Award (top linebacker) and the Bednarik Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy, both given to the nation's outstanding defensive player.
McCoy (Harrisburg, Pa./Bishop McDevitt/Milford Academy [N.Y.]) earned status as one of the nation's elite newcomers last year. He was the country's top freshman rusher with 110.67 yards per game — eight yards better than the second-leading frosh (Georgia's Knowshon Moreno, 102.62 yds./game). Among all rushers, McCoy finished 21st nationally and second in the Big East.
McCoy set Pitt freshman records for points (90) and rushing touchdowns (14), breaking two longstanding marks established by the legendary Tony Dorsett (78 points and 13 rushing TDs) in 1973. After watching McCoy play last year, Dorsett quipped, "He reminded me of me."
McCoy's 2007 honors included being named a unanimous Freshman All-American, the Big East Rookie of the Year and first team All-Big East Conference. Heading into his sophomore season, he has already been named to two preseason All-America squads (Lindy's and NationalChamps.net) and figures to be a strong candidate for the Doak Walker Award, annually presented to the country's top running back.
McKillop and McCoy are two of 17 returning starters for the Panthers, who are being touted as a team to watch both in the Big East and nationally this year. Pitt opens the 2008 season on Aug. 30 against Bowling Green at Heinz Field. For ticket information, log on to PittsburghPanthers.com or call (800) 643-PITT.