Topics: 6 questions Pat Narduzzi will face in his season-preview presser. Plus a preview of Marshall and an interview with Pitt’s Australian punter commit.
Pitt’s Jordan Whitehead earned his fourth watch-list selection of the 2016 preseason on Friday morning when the dynamic sophomore safety was named a candidate for the Paul Hornung Award, which is annually presented to college football’s most versatile player by the Louisville Sports Commission.
Whitehead’s explosiveness in various different roles could make him the ideal candidate for this season’s Paul Hornung Award presented by Texas Roadhouse, whose recent winners include first round NFL Draft picks Tavon Austin of West Virginia (2012), Odell Beckham Jr. of LSU (2013) and Shaq Thompson of Washington (2014), as well as 2015 honoree Christian McCaffrey of Stanford.
Featuring primarily as a safety for the Panthers in his true freshman season, Whitehead was named ACC Rookie of the Year by the media after leading Pitt with 109 total tackles – a true freshman school record – and compiling six tackles for loss, a sack assist, six pass breakups, one interception and a 22-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Navy in the Military Bowl.
The Aliquippa, Pa., native also excelled offensively towards the end of his debut season, averaging 10.2 yards per carry as a running back with 122 rushing yards on 12 carries. Whitehead’s breakout offensive performance came in November against Notre Dame when he rushed for two touchdowns (10 and three yards) on just four carries – all while making a team-high 11 tackles in his defensive duties.
Whitehead was previously placed on the preseason watch lists for the Chuck Bednarik Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy for national Defensive Player of the Year, and the Jim Thorpe Award for college football’s top defensive back ahead of the upcoming 2016 campaign.
Led by the four watch-list honors for the local Central Valley High School product Whitehead, the Pitt football team has now amassed a total of 14 selections to the watch lists of 10 of college football’s most coveted awards.
Updated 2016 Pitt watch-list selections (14 total):
Maxwell Award: RB James Conner
Chuck Bednarik Award: DE Ejuan Price, S Jordan Whitehead
Rimington Trophy: C Alex Officer
Ray Guy Award: P Ryan Winslow
Bronko Nagurski Trophy: S Jordan Whitehead
Outland Trophy: OL Adam Bisnowaty, OL Dorian Johnson
Jim Thorpe Award: S Jordan Whitehead
Wuerffel Trophy: RB James Conner, OL Adam Bisnowaty, LB Mike Caprara
Doak Walker Award: RB James Conner
Paul Hornung Award: S Jordan Whitehead