The combination of preseason accomplishments for the Pitt football team includes plenty of recognition for the individual Panthers. And that recognition has come from some of the nation's most prestigious awards.
Sophomore running back Dion Lewis is at the top of the pack. After rushing for 1,799 yards and 17 touchdowns as a true freshman in 2009, Lewis is on the watch list for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award. He is one of 30 players to make the list but one of only five sophomores. And of those five sophomores, only Lewis and Temple running back Bernard Pierce are true sophomores.
Tony Dorsett (1976), Hugh Green (1980), and Larry Fitzgerald (2003) each won the Walter Camp Award while playing at Pitt.
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Lewis finished as the third-leading rusher in the nation in 2009 and was second in total carries with 325. If he continues that production in 2010, Lewis should be a candidate for the Heisman Trophy. Earlier this week, the Maxwell Football Club announced the Lewis is also on the watch list for the Maxwell Award, presented annually to the "outstanding collegiate football player in America."
He is one of six sophomores on the 60-player list for the Maxwell Award.
Junior wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin has also found his way onto several preseason watch lists. The 6'5" 225-pound wideout, who caught 57 passes for 1,111 yards and eight touchdowns, was also named to the watch list for the Maxwell Award. And on Monday, the Tallahassee Quarterback Club announced that Baldwin is on its watch list for the Biletnikoff Award.
The Biletnikoff is presented to the nation's top receiver, and former Panthers Fitzgerald (2003) and Antonio Bryant (2000) both received the award.
Pitt's third big name is redshirt senior Greg Romeus, and he has also been named as a candidate for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which honors the nation's top defensive player. Romeus recorded 11.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks in 2009 and was named Big East Co-Defensive Player of the Year. He was also a finalist for the 2009 Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year and was selected to three separate All-America teams.
Baldwin, Lewis, and Romeus aren't the only Panthers earning preseason recognition, though. Senior safety Dom DeCicco has been named to the 35-player watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, which goes to the nation's top defensive back each year. A two-year starter entering his senior season, DeCicco has recorded seven interceptions in the last two seasons and led Pitt with four picks in 2008. He has also recorded 144 tackles over the past two years.