Aaron Donald voted to First Team All-ACC

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By Nate Barnes | Sports Editor

Pitt’s first season as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference ended on a sour note with its 41-31 loss to Miami Friday — a loss that sealed a 3-5 record for the Panthers in conference play. But the Panthers received a spot of good news, uncharacteristic for Pitt at this time of year, as Aaron Donald was selected to the All-ACC First Team and led six total selections from Pitt to the All-ACC rosters by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.

Donald received 171 votes toward his selection by the association, the second-highest of any defensive player behind only Florida State cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, who garnered 172 votes. Donald was named the ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week twice during the 2013 season, and is a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, Rotary Lombardi Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Outland Trophy.

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Donald led the nation with 2.2 tackles for loss per game, and ended the regular season second on Pitt’s all-time sack list with 28.5.

The other five Pitt players to make lists were receivers Tyler Boyd and Devin Street, safeties Jason Hendricks and Ray Vinopal and guard Matt Rotheram. Boyd was voted to the All-ACC Second Team, Street to the All-ACC Third Team and Hendricks, Vinopal, and Rotheram were named to the honorable mentions list.

Boyd is a candidate for the nation’s Freshman All-America list, after he set a Pitt record for receptions in a season by a freshman. His 77 catches surpassed the previous record of 69 held by Larry Fitzgerald.

The freshman from Clairton, Pa. ended his regular season as Pitt’s leading receiver with 77 catches for 1,001 yards and seven touchdowns.

Next to Boyd, senior Street earned Third Team honors following a season in which he became Pitt’s all-time leader in career receptions. In the event Pitt plays in a bowl game, Street needs 161 receiving yards to become the Panthers’ career leader in that category, as well.

In the defensive backfield, Hendricks recorded 75 tackles to lead Pitt in that category for the second consecutive year. Hendricks intercepted one pass this season to give him eight in his career.

Alongside Hendricks, Vinopal earned a reputation for his penchant to force turnovers as he led Pitt by catching three interceptions, forcing two fumbles and recovering a third fumble. Vinopal was Pitt’s third-leading tackler with 72 stops this season.

Rotheram, a mainstay on an inconsistent and oft-injured offensive line in 2013, currently owns the most starts by any active Pitt offensive lineman. Rotheram started every game this season.