Scott McKillop was named the Big East's Defensive Player of the Year Wednesday in a vote by the Conference's coaches, and he is joined by six of his teammates on the All-Big East teams.
Pittsburgh has five representatives on the first team, including unanimous selections McKillop (Export, Pa./Kiski Area) and sophomore running back LeSean McCoy, senior offensive guard/center C.J. Davis, junior tight end Nate Byham and fifth-year senior place-kicker Conor Lee.
"We're playing really well right now, myself and my teammates, and these couple weeks before the bowl game give us a chance to finish on a positive note with a win in my final college game,'' McKillop said. "It'll be a great way to go out. It'll be great for this team and this football program.''
Named as second-team selections were redshirt sophomore defensive end Greg Romeus and junior cornerback Aaron Berry. McKillop and McCoy also earned All-Big East honors last year, but it was the first selection for the other players.
McKillop, who has firmly established himself as one of the nation’s finest defenders despite the farce of him not being named as a finalist for the Butkus Award, is just the second Pitt player to earn the defensive honor. Current Washington Redskins middle linebacker H.B. Blades was the first in 2006.
McKillop enters his final game, when Pitt (9-3) faces Oregon State (8-4) in the Sun Bowl Dec. 31 at 2 p.m. in El Paso, Texas, in the lead the Big East and ranked second nationally in solo tackles (6.50 per game), 11th in total tackles (10.50 per game) and 20th in tackles behind the line (1.38 per game).
McCoy (Harrisburg, Pa./Milford Academy), also a unanimous selection, earns his second All-Big East first-team honor. As a sophomore, McCoy leads the nation in scoring (10.50 points per game) and is the 10th-leading rusher (116.92 yards per game).
McCoy’s 1,403 rushing yards this season makes him just the third player in Pitt history to reach the 1,000-yard plateau twice in a career. He is also just two rushing touchdowns from breaking the single-season record of 22 and is three from breaking the season record for total touchdowns (23).
Davis (Imperial, Pa./West Allegheny) played seven games for the Panthers at left guard before moving to center to take over for junior Robb Houser, who was lost for the season due to a broken ankle. The transition was seamless, as the four-year starter has made 42 consecutive starts on the offensive line in his four seasons and was a key to McCoy's back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing years.
Byham (Franklin, Pa./Franklin) has developed into a versatile tight end and has shown big-play capabilities. He pulled in a 28-yard touchdown reception in Pitt’s win at Connecticut, his first this season, but the junior has 18 catches for 250 yards overall and has a career average at 14.1 yards per catch.
Lee (Upper St. Clair, Pa./Fork Union) ranks fifth nationally in field goals per game (1.67) and leads the Big East in field goals, field goals per game, field goal percentage (20-for-23, 87.0 percent) and is third overall in the Conference in scoring. Lee has never missed a point after touchdown, converting a school-record 113 consecutive extra points. The number is also just three from tying the all-time Big East record for consecutive PATs made in a career.
Romeus (Coral Springs, Fla./Coral Glades) leads the team in sacks with 5.5 this season and has helped the Panthers block a school-record 10 kicks, including his three PAT blocks. The redshirt sophomore has tallied 13.5 tackles behind the line and 47 total tackles in 12 games this season.
Berry (Harrisburg, Pa./Bishop McDevitt) leads the Panthers in pass breakups this season with seven and has added two interceptions, including a 52-yard return after he picked off a pass at Connecticut. The junior also blocked a field goal at South Florida in Pitt’s victory against the then 10th-ranked Bulls.