Monday, November 25, 2013
Player of the week: ACC
By Matt Fortuna
On Saturday, Aaron Donald turned in another dominant performance. On Sunday, Pitt made sure everyone knew about the incredible campaign of its defensive tackle.
Donald won Walter Camp defensive player of the week honors for his efforts in the Panthers' 17-16 win at Syracuse, as he poured in a line of nine tackles (eight solo), 3.5 tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries. He also blocked an Orange extra point, a decisive play that helped his team get bowl-eligible under coach Paul Chryst in each of his first two years at the school.
That performance has earned him ESPN.com ACC player of the week honors, as well. And it has entered him into an entirely new discussion thread as well, nationally speaking:
His school has been posting all sorts of statistics and nuggets showing his brilliance, including an email that compares him to another interior lineman who made a strong push for the Heisman just four years ago.
In 14 games in 2009, Ndamukong Suh notched 20.5 tackles for loss, for 93 yards, for Nebraska. In 11 games this season, Donald has 26 for 129 yards. Suh tallied 12 sacks; Donald, with 10 in three fewer games, could catch and surpass him.
Donald leads the nation in tackles for loss (2.4 per game), is 10th in sacks (0.91) and 11th in forced fumbles (0.36). Of his 51 total tackles, more than half (26) have been behind the line of scrimmage.
He is a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Award. He is also a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award, Outland Trophy and Lott IMPACT Trophy.
The senior will get one last chance to make a Heisman statement this Friday when Pitt hosts Miami. And stiff-arm trophy or not, here's guessing Donald will have no shortage of hardware coming his way in this next month.