Pitt's Donald sweeps Outland, Bednarik awards, named All-American
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Pitt coach Paul Chryst doesn't bet or make predictions.
But he knows this about the best player on his team:
Aaron Donald won't allow success — even the kind that is almost unprecedented in recent college football history — to get the best of him.
“He'll turn it back on pretty fast,” Chryst said. “That's one I'm going to bet on. I'll put all the money down on that one.”
Such focus is part of the reason.
Donald concluded a week of celebration Thursday when he won the Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year) and Outland Trophy (best interior lineman, offense or defense) at the ESPN “College Awards Show.” He also was named to the Walter Camp All-America team.
That was after he took home the Nagurski (defensive player of the year) and Lombardi (best defensive lineman) awards Monday and Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C., and Houston, and was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year in separate voting by the coaches and media.
Winning all four of the awards has been done only one other time since the Bednarik Award began in 1995 — Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh did it in 2009.
But Donald's mother, Anita Goggins, saw it coming.
“When we were getting ready to leave Sunday (for the week of award presentations), his dad (Archie Donald) was like, ‘I'll be happy if he gets one or two.'
“I said, you know what, I'm claiming all four of them. He looked at me and started laughing, but I was so serious.”
Just like Donald has been all season and how he plans to be starting Friday when Pitt will begin preparing for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl on Dec. 26 against Bowling Green.
“I'm real excited to get back in that film room and start studying Bowling Green and get ready to play another game,” Donald said. “Even though it's cold (in Pittsburgh), I'm missing it.”
The 6-foot, 285-pound Donald, expected to be one of the first defensive linemen taken in the 2014 NFL Draft, led the nation in tackles for loss with 261⁄2. The Penn Hills product is Pitt's first Bednarik winner and the first defensive player to win both the Bednarik and the Outland since Suh four years ago. Donald joins Mark May (1980) as the only Pitt players to win the Outland.
“I'm speechless,” Donald said.
Chryst said Donald earned his honors the right way.
“He earned it the old-fashioned way — he did it on the field,” he said. “It wasn't just one flash. He kept producing and word got out.”
Donald's entry onto the Walter Camp All-America team gives Pitt four All-Americans in the past six years.
“It's been a busy week, but in the end it paid off,” Donald said.
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.
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