The honors and awards continued for Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald on Monday.
For a second time this season, Donald was named ACC Defensive Tackle of the Week. This on the heels of another incredible performance--nine tackles (eight solo), three tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries.
Defensive players, particularly tackles, don't often put points on the board. Donald kept points off the board, a blocked extra point on Syracuse's first touchdown of the game, that literally made the difference in the 17-16 win. He says it's the first time he blocked a kick, that he can recall.
"I'm surprised I hit it," Donald said. "My hand was sore after I hit it, but it was a big play for us."
Additionally, as a result of his performance against Syracuse, Donald was named the Ronnie Lott IMPACT National Defensive Player of the Week, and the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week.
Literally, moments later, Donald was named a finalist for the Bednarik Award and the Outland Trophy. The Bednarik Award goes to the nation' stop overall defensive player. He joins UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr and Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley.
Donald was the lone defensive lineman named as a finalist for the Outland Trophy. He joins Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews, and Baylor offensive guard Cyril Richardson. Mark May, who went on to fame as a member of the Washington Redskins, won the award at Pitt in 1980.
"All this is truly a blessing," Donald said of this type of recognition. "I just try to stay focused on what I'm trying to do, and that's play football."
Donald leads the nation in tackles for loss (2.4 per game), ranks 10th in sacks (0.91 per game) and 11th in forced fumbles (0.36 per game). More than half of his total tackles (51) have been behind the line of scrimmage (26).
Donald has also had his name linked to being a possible Heisman candidate.
"That's the voter's choice," Donald says.
Ndamukong Suh was a Heisman candidate in 2009 for Nebraska. That season, Suh had 20.5 tackles for losses (1.46 per game), 12 sacks (0.86 per game). It's not too far out of the realm for Donald to be invited to New York as a finalist. Suh's numbers were through 14 games. Donald still has two games to add to his totals, which are hill ahead of Suh's 14-game totals.
Aside from all the national recognition he received Monday, Donald said he received a lot of personal messages of congratulation. He says that's where it all hit home for him.
"Dorin Dickerson texted me, saying how proud he was of me," Donald added. "It's a really good feeling. Bill Fralic, he said 'hi' to me. Bill Fralic is the man at Penn Hills (also Donald's high school). Everyone knows who Bill Fralic is. It's just amazing that these guys know who I am now. It's a blessing. I can't say that enough."