The University of Pittsburgh announced today that senior defensive lineman Aaron Donald, a 6-0, 285 lb. Pittsburgh native, is one of 16 players who have been named a semi-finalist for the Nineteenth Annual Chuck Bednarik Award. He was one of only two defensive tackles named to the list (joining Wake Forest’s Nikita Whitlock) and one of five players from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).
“I’m excited about [the watch list] but you can’t focus on that. I still have to go out and play football,” Donald said. “Every time I get coached, I listen and absorb so I can learn to play better and do my part to help my team win games.”
In 2012, Donald had 64 total tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He led the Big East and ranked 12th nationally with 1.54 TFLs per game. He entered this football season as a candidate for no less than six college football awards, such as the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Outland Trophy, the Lott Impact Trophy, and the Lombardi Award.
He has not disappointed as midway through the season, he has eight quarterback sacks, which is second in the ACC and fifth in the nation, and 13.5 tackles for loss, which is tops in the ACC and second in the nation. Donald is also the nation’s active career leader with 26.5 sacks which is fourth all-time at Pitt. He was named a first team “Midseason All-American” by CBSSports.com, ESPN.com, Phil Steele, and SI.com.
“I’ve been playing football since I was five. I come from a football family. My older brother played football and my dad played football,” Donald said. “I just love the game. I love to hit somebody. It’s fun.”
During his freshman year, Donald had some great teammates on the defensive line to learn from including Jabaal Sheard, who now plays in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns.
“My freshman year, I got to be around Jabaal [Sheard] a lot. He taught me how to work,” Donald said. “Jabaal did a great job. Look where he’s at now.”
Now Donald is the elder statesman on the team and is trying to be a mentor to the younger players.
“I’m not a vocal guy. I just watch what I do on the field. I try to give it all I got. Hopefully the young guys are watching me and learning from what I’m doing,” Donald said. “I get younger guys asking me questions a lot. I don’t say a lot, but if I see them slacking, I’m going to say something about it.”
The Bednarik Award is presented each year to college football’s “Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year” by the Maxwell Football Club of Philadelphia. The award is named after the legendary Chuck Bednarik, who played collegiate ball at Penn and with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The winner will be announced on ESPN’s Home Depot College Football Awards Show telecast on Dec. 12. Three finalists for the award will be announced on Nov. 2.
Donald and the Panthers (4-3, 2-2 ACC) will play at Georgia Tech (5-3, 4-2) this Saturday at 7 p.m. The game will be nationally televised by ESPNU.
for further information: Pitt web site