ACC Coaches recognize nine Panthers with All-ACC honors

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ACC Coaches recognize nine Panthers with All-ACC honors

Photos by Jeff Ahearn, Wenhao Wu, Meghan Sunners

Photos by Jeff Ahearn, Wenhao Wu, Meghan Sunners

Photos by Jeff Ahearn, Wenhao Wu, Meghan Sunners

Photos by Jeff Ahearn, Wenhao Wu, Meghan Sunners

By Dan Sostek / Sports Editor

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After the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association honored a litany of Pitt football players in late November, the conference’s coaches heaped recognition on an array of Panthers.

On Wednesday morning, the ACC released the 2015 Football Coaches’ Awards and All-ACC teams. It honored freshman running back Qadree Ollison and freshman safety Jordan Whitehead as ACC Rookies of the Year, while naming nine Pitt players to All-ACC teams, including a unanimous selection for junior wideout Tyler Boyd.

The conference’s head coaches all submitted ballots for the awards. The voting policy did not permit coaches to vote for their own players

Ollison and Whitehead tied for the overall Rookie of the Year award, each receiving five votes apiece. Whitehead won the overall award the ACSMA presented in November.

Ollison earned the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, earning eight votes of the 13 he was eligible for, while Whitehead earned the defensive honor, garnering nine of the possible 13 votes. Both received those awards from the ACSMA.

Of the nine Pitt players the coaches placed on All-ACC teams, three of them earned first team honors.

Boyd received the maximum of 39 points based on balloting, indicating that every ballot named him to the first team, meriting a unanimous selection.

After missing the first game of the season due to a suspension stemming from an offseason DUI incident, Boyd was dynamic, leading the ACC in receptions per game (7.7) and receiving yards per game (79.4). He became Pitt’s all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards this season.

This is the second consecutive year coaches named Boyd first-team All-ACC. They named him third-team in 2013, his freshman year.

Senior defensive end Ejuan Price and redshirt junior offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty rounded out the first team selections.

Price’s 11.5 sacks were the most made by a Pitt player since 2000 and led the ACC in sacks per game with .96 sacks per game. He was second nationally with 19.5 tackles for loss.

Bisnowaty provided a steadying presence on the Pitt offensive line, as he and Dorian Johnson — who the coaches named to All-ACC second team — anchored the Pitt running game, helping Ollison to his tremendous rookie season.

On the second team, Ollison, who earned a spot at running back, joined the junior guard Johnson.

Ollison was the fifth Pitt running back to rush for 1,000 yards in his first season, finishing the season with 1,048 yards and 10 touchdowns after filling in for 2014 ACC Player of the Year James Conner, who was injured in the first week of the season against Youngstown State.

Pitt placed four players on the third team — defensive tackle Darryl Render, Whitehead, linebacker Nicholas Grigsby and tight end J.P. Holtz.

Render and Whitehead received third-team recognition from the ACSMA, while this is the first time the ACC has recognized either Holtz or Grigsby with a year-end honor.

Render was a key piece on the defensive line for the Panthers, as the senior captain provided size and physicality in the trenches and finished with 16 tackles on the season.

Whitehead was obviously a key contributor in his first collegiate season, leading Pitt in tackles with 99, and ranking ninth in the ACC in tackles per game (8.2). He also saw time offensively, carrying the ball 10 times for 79 yards and two touchdowns.

A senior captain, Holtz had his best season as a Panther. He set new career highs in receptions with 24 and yards with 350, while tying a career high in touchdowns with four. The John Mackey Award Selection Committee named him to the Mackey Award watchlist earlier this season, given to the nation’s best tight end.

Grigsby, a redshirt senior, was a fixture on Pitt’s defense, as the fast linebacker tallied 59 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and three sacks on the season.

Pitt’s nine All-ACC nods were tied for the third most of any team in the conference this season, trailing only Clemson, which had 17, and North Carolina, which had 13, while matching Florida State’s output of nine.

The Panthers will finish their season in the Military Bowl where they will take on No. 21 Navy and star quarterback Keenan Reynolds.

Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. Dec. 28, at Navy-Marine Corps Military Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland.

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