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Pitt notebook: Junior DT Donald to test draft waters

| Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, 6:48 p.m.
If he doesn't enter the NFL Draft, All-Big East defensive tackle Aaron Donald will be a mainstay of Pitt's defense next season. Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt's Aaron Donald plays against Louisville at Hein Field Oct. 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review

Pitt junior defensive tackle Aaron Donald filed paperwork with the NFL to gauge his draft status, but he downplayed the matter's significance.

“I sent it in just to see where I was standing right now,” he said. “Nothing major. From where I stand right now, I will be a Pitt Panther.”

But if he receives favorable grades next month and decides to give up his final year of eligibility, Donald has a good chance to get drafted between the third and fifth rounds, ESPN college football/draft analyst Kevin Weidl said.

“I think someone would take him, oh yeah,” said Weidl, a former Mt. Lebanon High School and Indiana (Pa.) quarterback who has worked with ESPN draft expert Todd McShay for five years.

Weidl, who attended Pitt's games against Virginia Tech and Rutgers at Heinz Field, said Donald would benefit by going back to school.

“He has to overcome his lack of size (6-foot, 275 pounds), but he has always been an upfield penetrator,” he said. “I was very impressed with what he did in the Rutgers game (three tackles for a loss). I thought he turned it on well.

“He can dial up a pass rush, as well, which will help his value. People are really looking for interior pass rushers.”

Donald, who led the Big East and was sixth in the nation with 18 12 tackles for loss, said he became so comfortable in his position that he has been taking chances.

“And I'm winning them,” he said.

Donald, a Penn Hills graduate, said he occasionally used the “quick swim,” which is a departure from techniques coaches teach.

“Sometimes I get yelled at for doing it when I don't (make the tackle), but when I get it, coaches are happy,” he said.

Street's chances

Weidl also said he would expect redshirt junior wide receiver Devin Street to get drafted in a late round, but he also would improve his status for 2014 by staying in school.

“He has some size to him (6-4, 190), and he is a smooth route runner,” Weidl said. “I don't know how particularly fast he is in terms of straight-line, top-end speed.”

Street also has filed paperwork with the NFL, but he said he plans on returning to Pitt.

No more wake-up calls

Senior guard Chris Jacobson has been at Pitt for five years and six football seasons, so it's not surprising when he says: “It has been home for a while.”

But he also admits there are some aspects of college football he won't miss.

“When I was a freshman and a sophomore, (former strength coach) Buddy Morris had us in here at 5 a.m. (for weightlifting),” he said. “That was bad. I won't miss that.”

But Jacobson, who will play in the Casino Del Sol all-star game Jan. 11 in Tucson, Ariz., said he may work out at Morris' gym in Buffalo when he starts preparing for Pitt's pro day in March.

Running back Ray Graham said he and center Ryan Turnley have been chosen for the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 19 in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Bisnowaty looks good

Jacobson said he has been impressed with freshman offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty of Fox Chapel during initial bowl practices.

“Bisnowaty is going to be a stud,” Jacobson said. “I feel like he's going to be a four-year starter here. He works hard. He has a grinder's mentality.”

Jacobson said Bisnowaty, who is being redshirted, has gained 30 pounds and improved his bench press 80 pounds from the beginning of the season, when he was listed at 6-6, 275.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jdipaola@tribweb.com or 412-320-7997.

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