PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — For decades, Western Pennsylvania has produced elite football talent. Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, Dan Marino — to name a few.

Now a young man from Penn Hills and the University of Pittsburgh is making his mark in the NFL.

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Aaron Donald was a three-year starter at Penn Hills High School, yet there were a lot of people who wondered whether he was big enough, quick enough or strong enough to play college football for the Pitt Panthers at Heinz Field. He proved all those people wrong.

“Aaron Donald headed into his senior year and he was not voted on the pre-season all ACC team. Four months later, he finished his career as the most-decorated defensive player, not in the ACC, not in the east, but in the country,” said E.J. Borghetti, of Pitt’s athletic department. “The most decorated player in the country.”

Borghetti watched Donald dominate opponents during his storied four-year career at Pitt.

“Aaron is the same today as he was when he walked in as a freshman,” Borghetti said. “Aaron Donald has always been humble. He’s always been appreciative. He’s always been hard-working. I think that is part of the secret of his great success.”

His talent and that famous work ethic were obvious from the time he first set foot on the St. Louis Rams practice field last summer.

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Long before he was a first-round pick in the NFL, Donald’s drive to improve pushed him.

“I feel like I am not where I want to be. I have a lot more that I’ve got to prove,” says Donald. “There are a lot more plays out there I can make. The more plays I can make, the more my team can win, but you have to just keep getting out there and cleaning up things I am messing up on, and keep improving on the things I am doing right, and hopefully everything will play out for the best.”

After a massive senior season and exceptional workouts at the NFL Combine, Donald skyrocketed to the 13th overall pick in last May’s draft.

“When you keep doing things that you are supposed to be on a football field and off the football field, it’s going to show and that’s what teams started to notice… that I’m a football player and a hard worker and somebody that is going to make a difference on a football team,” Donald added.

The 23-year-old recorded nine sacks and forced two fumbles as the Rams’ fought for a playoff spot.

“He has earned all those accolades and earned all those awards, but I think a great example of whether you are 16 or you are 76, I think we all can appreciate his humble approach to all the success that has come to him; and that’s a great example whether you are a football fan or not,” Borghetti said.

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Former Pitt Star Aaron Donald Named NFL Defensive Rookie Of The Year (1/13/15)
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