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The Friday release of the watch lists for the prestigious Outland Trophy and Bronko Nagurski Trophy featured a total of three members of the Pitt football team being named as players to watch this season for two of college football’s most coveted individual awards.
Senior offensive linemen Adam Bisnowaty and Dorian Johnson were both placed on the watch list for the Outland Trophy, which is annually presented to the nation’s top interior lineman; simultaneously, sophomore safety Jordan Whitehead was selected to the Nagurski Trophy watch list as a candidate for National Defensive Player of the Year. The winners of both awards will be chosen at the end of the season by the Football Writers Association of America.
The Pitt football program is no stranger to either of these notable awards.
The Outland Trophy and Nagurski Trophy were both won by Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald following his historic 2013 season when he led the nation with 2.2 tackles for loss per game while tallying 59 tackles, 28.5 TFLs and 11 sacks. Legendary Panther offensive lineman Mark May also received the Outland Trophy in 1980 when he was selected as the nation’s top interior lineman at the conclusion of his senior year.
This season, Pitt seniors Bisnowaty and Johnson will be in contention to repeat May’s feat.
Offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty returns for his fourth consecutive season as a starter after being named first team All-ACC by the league’s coaches in 2015. Meanwhile, offensive guard Johnson, who was chosen second team All-ACC last season, comes back for his senior year owning a 27-game consecutive start streak for the Panthers dating back to his freshman campaign.
On the defensive side of the ball, Whitehead was selected as a candidate for college football’s Defensive Player of the Year for the second time this week when the Nagurski Trophy named him to its watch list. The reigning ACC Rookie of the Year led the Panthers with 109 tackles last season, the most by a true freshman in school history, and added six TFLs, six pass breakups, one interception and one fumble recovery. Whitehead was also named as a watch-list selection for the Chuck Bednarik Award earlier this week.
Pitt was one of just three ACC schools – along with Clemson and Miami – to have multiple Outland Trophy watch-list selections, while Whitehead was one of five defensive backs in the conference selected for the watch list of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy.