LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (FWAA) Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald became the fourth player to sweep the Football Writers Association of America's top two individual player awards on Thursday night when he accepted the 68th Outland Trophy during The Home Depot College Football Awards on the Disney Boardwalk.
Donald, a 6-0, 285-pound senior from Pittsburgh, Pa., joins three other stellar defensive players to win both awards: Arizona's Rob Waldrop (1993), LSU's Glenn Dorsey (2007) and Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh (2009). He's the second Pittsburgh player to claim the Outland Trophy after Mark May (1980), now an ESPN analyst.
Also in the audience at the Dance Hall were Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews and Baylor offensive guard Cyril Richardson, the other two Outland finalists. Former Alabama offensive lineman Chris Samuels, the 1999 Outland Trophy winner, made the presentation to Donald.
Donald also won the Bednarik Award on Thursday night after becoming Pittsburgh's first defensive player to capture a national individual award since Hugh Green in 1980 when he took home the Nagurski Trophy at an awards banquet in Charlotte, N.C. On Wednesday night, he won the Lombardi Award in Houston.
"I wanted in this season to come out an All-America," Donald said. "This is past my expectations being up for all of these individual awards."
Donald, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, averages 2.2 tackles for loss per game. He also ranks tied for 10th in forced fumbles and tied for 13th in sacks. Of his 54 tackles this season, nearly half (26.5) have been behind the line of scrimmage.
He has been one of the most disruptive defensive tackles in recent history.
Compared to Suh, who won Nagurski, Outland, Bednarik and Lombardi awards in 2009, Donald's tackles for loss total this season is already better than Suh's (20.5 in 14 games).
"Leverage, I feel that is my advantage," Donald said. "I am lower to the ground. I feel it is my leverage and quickness."I started weight lifting when I was 12 with my dad early in the morning down in my basement at home. I have always had that work instinct.'
Additionally, Donald had several key performances during the season.
• Donald made the decisive play in Pitt's 17-16 win at Syracuse, blocking an extra point and making the team bowl-eligible.
• In a game against North Carolina, Donald registered three tackles for losses, forced a fumble, broke up one pass, and made five quarterback hurries.
• Against Duke, he tackled the quarterback and running back and brought them down at the same time on an option read play.
• In a game against Georgia Tech, he registered six tackles for loss.
"He's a one man wrecking crew," North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said. "The guy is all over the play. Paul (Chryst, Pittsburgh head coach) and his staff have done a great job with him. ... They move him all over the place. They put him in position to make plays. And the guy comes through. For a big guy like that he's quick as a cat now. He can move. He's like a skilled athlete but in a big body. And he's just got a knack and he plays hard. What a great player."
Pittsburgh finished the regular season with a 6-6 record and is headed to play Bowling Green in the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl on Dec. 26 in Detroit in Donald's final college game.
"The bottom line I would like to have him every year," Chryst said. "He's an unbelievable player. He is a great person. He is a worker and competitive. He loves the game."
The Outland Trophy, which has been awarded annually by the FWAA since 1946, is named after the late John Outland, an All-America lineman at Pennsylvania in the late 1800s. It is the third oldest award in major-college football behind the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award.
For the 17th consecutive year, the presentation banquet of the Outland Trophy will occur in Omaha. The official 2013 Outland Trophy presentation to the winner will be on Jan. 9, 2014 at a banquet sponsored by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee. At the same banquet, North Carolina State center Jim Ritcher will receive an Outland Trophy, which is sponsored by the Downtown Omaha Rotary Club. He was the 1979 winner of the award before trophies were handed out by the FWAA.
The Outland Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). The NCFAA encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. The 21 awards boast 678 years of tradition-selection excellence. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.
The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,200 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game day operations, major awards and its annual All- America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-713-6198.
The Greater Omaha Sports Committee, founded in 1977, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, consisting of more than 300 men and women from the City of Omaha and the State of Nebraska. The membership serves to communicate, develop, initiate and promote sports activities in the Greater Omaha sports area.
2013 Outland Trophy Finalists
· 2013 Outland Trophy Semifinalists
· 2013 Preseason Outland Trophy Watch List
· All-time Outland Trophy winners
· Outland Trophy official site (outlandtrophy.com)