Pittsburgh’s basking in awards afterglow
With all media attention he’s received this season, one might
believe that Pittsburgh senior defensive tackle Aaron Donald craves
his private time.
But that’s not the case, even though the history making Donald
gets recognized much more often around the city after a weeklong
awards tour that saw him pick a handful of some of the most
prestigious trophies in college football.
”Yeah, people know me a little bit more, but that’s all
right,” Donald said. ”It’s a good feeling. It’s just a good
feeling to be known, to see a kid come up to you with a big smile
on his face and say, `Are you Aaron Donald?’ I say, `Yeah,’ so just
to see the smile on that kid’s face is a good feeling.”
For those who know Donald best, his coaches and teammates, this
isn’t difficult to imagine.
”It couldn’t have happened to a better guy,” Pitt defensive
coordinator Matt House said. ”He works so hard in practice and
worked so hard in the offseason, and he kind of willed himself to
have this happen to him. So, I’m super proud of him and super happy
for him. I think it was well-deserved, and he earned it.”
Donald said that even though some time has passed since he won
the Nagurski, Bednarik and Lombardi awards and the Outland Trophy
it still hasn’t sunk in.
”It’s just surreal,” Donald said. ”I can’t explain it. It’s
just an honor and an amazing feeling, but I still have a lot of
work to do. So, I’m just going to try to become a better person on
and off the field.”
Maybe it would help if Donald actually was able to see the
awards at Pitt.
”They’re shipping them, so they should be here soon,” said
Donald, who was also named a first-team All-American earlier this
”It’s been special,” second-year Pitt coach Paul Chryst said.
”What has happened is a very unique thing, and I’m very
appreciative to be part of it. It’s something that you don’t take
for granted. … I love the way that he’s handled it throughout the
whole process from start to finish this season, and he’s got one
more game as a Pitt Panther. And I’m looking forward to that.”
Donald and his teammates at Pitt (6-6) face MAC champion Bowling
Green (10-3) Dec. 26 in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl at Ford
Field in Detroit.
”It felt good to put those pads back on and get back into it,”
Donald said. ”So, my focus is to get ready for Bowling Green. …
I’m going to just take it all in and enjoy it. It’s my last time
I’m going to go out and play with my teammates. So, we just want to
go out there and have fun and come out with a win.”
The Panthers have finished the past three regular seasons with
6-6 records. They won their bowl game after 2011, but lost last