Aaron Donald

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SEC, Cal, Pitt lead the way on NFL’s All-Decade Team for 2010s

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Which conference has produced the best NFL talent over the past decade? Perhaps not too surprisingly, it has been the SEC. A total of 12 SEC players were named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-Decade Team of the 2010s. The SEC had one more player than the next best-represented conference, the ACC.

LSU and Wisconsin each had two players named to the NFL All-Decade team, with both Badgers representatives — defensive end J.J. Watt and offensive tackle Joe Thomas — being among the eight unanimous selections. LSU is represented by Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu.

The schools that were most represented were California and Pittsburgh. Former Cal players on the team include Aaron Rodgers, Marshawn Lynch, Alex Mack, and Cameron Jordan. Cal made up nearly half of the count for the Pac-12 (9 total players). Pitt’s four players — Aaron Donald, Larry Fitzgerald, Darrelle Revis, and LeSean McCoy — helped boost the ACC’s total as well.

To keep things simple, this count is based entirely on what conference schools reside right now. A number of players in the NFL may have played in a different conference than where their alma mater currently sits. Rather than go through and break down the list to include the old Big East, all players were counted under their school’s current conference affiliation. Two Division 2 conferences were represented in the count (Bloomsburg’s Jahri Evans for the PSAC and West Alabama’s Tyreek Hill for the Gulf South).

  • SEC – 12
  • ACC – 11
  • Pac-12 – 9
  • Big 12 – 6
  • Big Ten – 5
  • MAC – 3
  • American – 2
  • MWC – 2
  • Independents – 1
  • PSAC (D2) – 1
  • Gulf South (D2) – 1

Former Michigan quarterback Tom Brady joined some rare company by being named to his second all-decade team.

Maxwell Football Club award finalists include Mariota, Prescott, Gordon and Beasley

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The Maxwell Football Club has announced the three finalists for each of its individual awards, the Maxwell Award and the Chuck Bednarik Award. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott and Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon have been named finalists for the Maxwell Award. Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley, Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa and Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright III have been named finalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award.

the Maxwell Award is presented to the top player in college football as determined by the Maxwell Football Club and voting panel. The award does not always go to the player that wins the Heisman Trophy. Last year, for example, the Maxwell Award went to Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron. Mariota, Gordon and Prescott may be likely names to be heading to New York City for the Heisman Trophy presentation at the end of the season, but the odds may be good the Maxwell Award goes to another player. No Oregon or Mississippi State player has ever won the Maxwell Award, but Wisconsin has one. The last running back to iwn the award was Penn State’s Larry Johnson in 2002.

The Chuck Bednarik Award is in its 20th season and goes to the top defensive player as determined by the Maxwell Football Club and its voters. Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald won the award last season. Whichever player wins the award this year will be doing so for the first time in school history.

this year’s winners for each award will be announced on December 11 during The Home Depot College Football Awards Show on ESPN. The awards will be formally presented in Atlantic City, New Jersey in March as part of the Maxwell Football Club’s Awards Gala.

Bednarik Award watch list names 76 players

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Watchlist season continued Monday with the release of the 2014 Chuck Bednarik Award watch list by the Maxwell Football Club. A total of 76 players were named to the watch list.

The Chuck Bednarik Award is awarded to the nation’s top defensive player as determined by the Maxwell Football Club. Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald was named the Bednarik Award winner each of the first two years the award was presented (1995 and 1996), and Penn State has had four Bednarik Award winners, the most of any school. Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald was the 2013 Bednarik Award winner.

This year’s watch list includes three of last year’s semifinalists, Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley, Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and USC defensive end Leonard Williams. Georgia has three linebackers on the watch list and Stanford continues to gain respect on defense with four players named to the watch list.

Here is the 2014 Bednarik Award watch list:

DE Henry Anderson, Stanford

LB Stephone Anthony, Clemson

DE Vic Beasley, Clemson

DT Michael Bennett, Ohio State

DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State

LB Kelby Brown, Duke

DT Malcom Brown, Texas

DE Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State

CB Alex Carter, Stanford

S Sam Carter, TCU

S Jeremy Cash, Duke

DE Frank Clark, Michigan

S Landon Collins, Alabama

DT Christian Covington, Rice

S Su’a Cravens, USC

DT Carl Davis, Iowa

LB Trey DePriest, Alabama

CB Quandre Diggs, Texas

CB Lorenzo Doss, Tulane

S Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State

DE Alvin Dupree, Kentucky

DE Mario Edwards, Florida State

CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon

LB Kyler Fackrell, Utah State

DE Devonte Fields, TCU

DE Try Flowers, Arkansas

LB Leonard Floyd, Georgia

DE Dante Fowler, Florida

CB Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech

DE Markus Golden, Missouri

DE Randy Gregory, Nebrska

LB Bryce Hager, Baylor

CB Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida

DE Eli Harold, Virginia

S Anthony Harris, Virginia

LB Ben Heeney, Kansas

DT Chucky Hunter, TCU

DE Martin Ifedl, Memphis

LB Myles Jack, UCLA

DT Grady Jarrett, Clemson

LB Jordan Jenkins, Georgia

LB A.J. Johnson, Tennessee

S Karl Joseph, West Virginia

LB Eric Kendricks, UCLA

LB Hau’oli Kikaha, Washington

CB Jordan Lucas, Penn State

DT Luther Maddy, Virginia Tech

LB Tyler Matakevich, Temple

LB Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville

LB Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State

DE Ryan Mueller, Kansas State

DE Shawn Oakman, Baylor

DE Norkeithus Otis, North Carolina

LB Denzel Perryman, Miami

LB Terrance Plummer, UCF

S Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss

LB Hayes Pullard, USC

DE Cedric Reed, Texas

S Jordan Richards, Stanford

DE A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama

DT James Rouse, Marshall

CB KeiVarae Russell, Notre Dame

LB Jake Ryan, Michigan

LB Frank Shannon, Oklahoma

DT Danny Shelton, Washington

S Derron Smith, Fresno State

LB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame

LB Eric Striker, Oklahoma

DE Charles Tapper, Oklahoma

LB A.J. Tarpley, Stanford

S Robenseon Therezie, Auburn

LB Shaq Thompson, Washington

CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State

DE Leonard Williams, USC

CB P.J. Williams, Florida State

LB Ramik Wilson, Georgia

Earlier today the Paul Hornung Award watch list was released. The Maxwell Award watch list was released alongside the Bednarik Award watch list as well.

Senior Bowl recognizes Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald’s practice efforts

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Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald will have to make room on his trophy shelf for at least one more award. Donald was named the top practice player at the Senior Bowl practices this week.

“Donald is a very explosive defensive tackle,” said Mike Smith, the coach of the Atlanta Falcons, in a statement released by the Senior Bowl. The Falcons coaching staff is coaching the North team in this year’s Senior Bowl. “I’ve been very impressed with him. He’s short in stature by NFL standards and doesn’t maybe have all the measurables, but he’s one of the more explosive guys we have on the North squad. He’s done a very nice job both in the running and the pass game.”

Donald cleaned up on the college football awards circuit. He was named the winner of the Outland Trophy, Bronko Nagurski Award, Lombardi Award and Chuck Bednarik Award in addition to being named ACC Defensive Player of the Year and a consensus All-American.

The Senior Bowl also handed out awards for the top players by position. Auburn’s Dee Ford was named the most outstanding defensive lineman, which is somewhat humorous considering Donald is also a defensive lineman. Northern Illinois defensive back Jimmie Ward, West Virginia running back Charles Sims, Iowa wide receiver C.J. Fiedorowicz, Notre Dame offensive lineman Zach Martin, Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland and Auburn kicker Cody Parkey have all been recognized for their performance in practices this week as well.

Last year’s top practice player at the Senior Bowl was Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher, who went on to be the number one overall draft pick. Donald may not be the number one pick in this year’s upcoming NFL Draft, but his stock certainly could not be much higher at this point. With NFL scouts and coaches gathering at the Senior Bowl, what a potential draft pick does during practices at the Senior Bowl tends to carry more weight than anything that happens during the actual game, although ending the week on a high note with a solid game performance certainly helps.

Hot and ready record offensive performances, defense lead Pitt to Pizza Bowl win

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It was a record-breaking day for Pittsburgh in a Little Caesars Pizza Bowl victory over Bowling Green Thursday in Detroit. Pittsburgh wide receiver Tyler Boyd set a school record for most receiving yards in a bowl game with 173 receiving yards. Running back James Connor broke Tony Dorsett’s bowl rushing record with 229 rushing yards. On top of that, quarterback Chad Voytik came in to lead the offense in the second half after Tom Savage suffered a rib injury at the end of the first half, and he led the offense on the longest drive of the season for the Panthers, 98 yards for a fourth quarter touchdown.

the performance of the offense may have overshadowed the work done by the Pittsburgh defense at times. The Panthers recorded seven sacks in the game, with five in the first half and an Aaron Donald sack late in the fourth quarter helping to seal the game for the Panthers. Pittsburgh held Bowling Green’s offense, which just weeks ago had their way with Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship game, to just 282 yards of offense. Bowling green quarterback Matt Johnson had a pair of touchdown passes and 265 yards but the Panthers defense played nearly the entire game in Bowling green’s backfield it seemed and the Falcons struggled to show a defense capable of slowing down a Pittsburgh team growing up and providing a glimpse of what could be coming in 2014.

Pittsburgh may have had a rough debut in the ACC but they end the season with a winning record and bowl victory. Next season the Panthers have a favorable non-conference schedule that could lead to a solid start to the season with games against Delaware, Akron, Iowa and FIU. They will also get Duke, Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Virginia Tech at home. The road schedule in the conference could be a bit trickier with stops at Miami, Boston College, North Carolina and Virginia but you will notice four teams not appearing on Pittsburgh’s schedule for 2014: Florida State, Clemson, Louisville (joining the ACC in 2014) and Notre Dame (on the ACC schedule rotation).

If Pittsburgh can build an offense around Voytik, see the same level of play from Boyd and keep the running game going, this Pittsburgh team could be set up for a solid season in 2014 ACC play.