Pitt expects more from All-American candidate Donald
The play was impressive but just one of many in a largely forgettable football season at Penn Hills High School.
Today, former Penn Hills coach Ron Graham just shrugs his shoulders at the ferocity shown by defensive tackle Aaron Donald during his prep career. After all, Graham had seen it so many times that it was merely normal.
“He was unblockable as a young guy,” Graham said. “He was not to be denied.”
The Donald play that Graham likes to recall was a good indicator of his potential and a scouting report on what to expect.
Penn Hills was 4-5 but looking to upset Upper St. Clair in the first round of the 2009 WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs. But in the fourth quarter, Penn Hills' 14-7 lead was in peril.
“They were moving into scoring position,” Graham said of his opponent. “Fourth down and inches.”
No problem. Donald defeated a double team, made a big play in the backfield, and the game was over.
Graham, a Penn Hills graduate, puts Donald in an exclusive group of similarly talented linemen at the school: Bill Fralic, who was an All-Pro in the NFL before Pitt retired his number; and Demond Gibson, who also played at Pitt and later coached Donald at Penn Hills.
“That's a good legacy of guys,” Graham said.
One month before the start of Pitt training camp, preseason honors are pouring in for Donald, who has been named All-American by two magazines (Lindy's and Phil Steele) and All-ACC by those two plus Athlon and Sporting News.
“I'm excited about it, but I still have to go out there and play football,” he said.
And so much more.
This season, Pitt needs Donald's ability to set a good example as much as his muscle.
“He's definitely not a talker,” junior linebacker Todd Thomas said. “He leads by working hard and just doing what you have to do.”
Donald, 22, admits to his “laid-back” nature, but he said he won't hesitate to evolve into a vocal leader if necessary. Teammates — and opponents — will be wise not to make him mad.
“They ask me questions; I try to give them feedback,” he said of younger Pitt players. “If they are slacking, I'm going to say something about it.
“If I see that somebody needs help or needs me to say something to them, I'm going to be that person to do that.”
Pitt will open training camp Aug. 6 at its Sports Performance Complex on the South Side.
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.