Aaron Donald wins Nagurski Award

Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, presented annually to the nation’s most outstanding defensive player.

Donald received his award Monday night at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet, taking the honor over Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard, Florida State cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley and Missouri defensive end Michael Sam.

More hardware could be on its way so this was just the start of his busy week.

On Wednesday, Donald will be in Houston for the presentation of the Rotary Lombardi Award, given to the nation’s top lineman or linebacker.

Then Thursday, he will be in Orlando, Fla., for the Home Depot College Football Awards show, where he is up for the Chuck Bednarik Award (college defensive player of the year) and the Outland Trophy (nation’s best offensive or defensive interior lineman).

The Nagurski Award is a major triumph for Donald, who arrived at Pitt as an undersized interior lineman with no other scholarship offers from BCS schools. But Donald exhibited a drive and work ethic that quickly allowed him to play as a true freshman. By the end of his sophomore year, he was starting and playing at every position on the line. As a junior, he became a first-team All-Big East selection.

But headed into this, his final season, not many people in the ACC knew who Donald was or what he could do. Donald was left off the preseason All-ACC team, but he quickly showed why that was a mistake. Donald had one of the best defensive seasons in Pitt history, leading the nation in tackles for loss (2.2 per game), while ranking 10th in forced fumbles and 13th in sacks (10 total). Of his 54 total tackles, nearly half have been behind the line of scrimmage (26.5).

Last week, he was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year.

"This is an incredible honor and I could not be more appreciative,” Donald said Monday night at the ceremony. “All of the other finalists are unbelievable players and I feel blessed to be here with them this evening. On behalf of my coaches, teammates and family, I want to thank the Charlotte Touchdown Club and Football Writers for selecting me the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy."

Donald is the first Pitt defensive player to win a national award since 1980 when the legendary Hugh Green was the recipient of the Lombardi, Maxwell and Walter Camp awards.