After being named a first-team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association and Football Writers Association of America, Aaron Donald became the first Pitt player since 2003 to earn unanimous All-America honors.
The senior defensive tackle is the first Panthers player since star receiver Larry Fitzgerald and 12th in Pitt history to be named to the first team by the five major All-America selectors. The most recent defensive player to earn unanimous status was defensive end Hugh Green, who did it in 1979 and 1980.
Donald, a Penn Hills native, also won four major national awards last week to become college football's most decorated defensive player since Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh in 2009.
Mt. Lebanon offensive lineman Alex Bookser verbally committed to the Panthers, according to multiple reports. A four-star prospect, Bookser chose Pitt over several other major offers including Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Ohio State and Penn State. The Buckeyes reportedly made a strong final push for his services, but Bookser became the 21st member of Pitt's 2014 recruiting class and the third rated as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com. Pitt is still waiting on the decisions of Gateway safety Montae Nicholson and Washington running back Shai McKenzie, both high-level prospects who are deciding this week and strongly considering the Panthers.
Tarow Barney, a junior-college defensive tackle from Northwest Mississippi Community College, officially signed with the Nittany Lions and will enroll for the spring semester. "There was a great and amazing family feel around Penn State and I felt like coach [Bill] O'Brien is a good coach and I could add to where he is trying to take Penn State football," Barney said in a statement released by his school. Barney, who is 6 feet 3 and weighs 285 pounds, had 36 tackles this past season, including 9.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks.
The Falcons, who will play Pitt in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl Dec. 26, hired Eastern Illinois' Dino Babers as their new coach. Babers, a former Pitt assistant under Walt Harris, takes over for Dave Clawson, who left for Wake Forest earlier this month.
Three Grove City seniors were named to a Division III all-star bowl game Saturday in Monterrey, Mexico. Linebacker Ben Manwaring, offensive tackle Ethan Martin and receiver Anthony Ritchie will represent the U.S. against a team of college all-stars from Mexico.