PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — Pitt Panthers defensive tackle Aaron Donald is receiving a big honor.

The senior has been named the 2013 defensive player of the year in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Donald, a Pittsburgh native, had 44 votes for the defensive award to 10 for Wake Forest nose tackle Nikita Whitlock and eight for Florida State cornerback Lamarcus Joyner.

Earlier this week, he was also named first team All-ACC by the Atlantic Coast Conference Sports Media Association.

“There are some great defensive players in the ACC, so to be selected for this award is a tremendous honor,” Donald said in a press release from the University of Pittsburgh. “I would like to thank my Pitt coaches and teammates because they share in this award. I’d also like to thank ACSMA for recognizing not only me but also Pitt with this honor.”

Donald leads the nation with 26½ tackles for losses, and has 10 sacks and four forced fumbles. His blocked extra point in the Panthers’ 17-16 win over Syracuse on Nov. 23 made them bowl eligible.

According to Pitt, Donald is their first conference player of the year since Jabaal Sheard was named the top defensive player in the Big East in 2010.

Donald is also a finalist for several other awards, including the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Chuck Bednarik Award, Outland Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Award.

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