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Pitt's Graham, Sunseri and Gruder among five local players named to national award watch lists

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Penn State's Mauti and West Virginia's Smith also named to watch lists

The Pitt football team continues to be well represented on the various national awards watch lists with three more players earning preseason recognition today, while Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti and WVU quarterback Geno Smith also continued to add to their preseason recognition..

Pitt senior linebacker Max Gruder was named to the Butkus Award watch list, while junior running back Ray Graham was recognized on the Doak Walker Award list and junior quarterback Tino Sunseri was named to the Davey O'Brien watch list. Penn State's Mauti was also named to the Butkus Award watch list and Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith was named to the Davey O'Brien list.

Gruder (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Country Day) and Mauti are among 51 players considered preseason candidates for the Butkus Award, annually presented to the nation’s top linebacker by the Butkus Foundation. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Gruder has compiled 175 tackles over the past two seasons in a starting role. A versatile performer, Gruder has played all three linebacker spots but will focus on the weakside position in 2011.

Mauti, a redshirt senior for the Nittany Lions, returned from an ACL injury to record 66 tackles and 2 sacks as a junior in 2010.

Graham (Elizabeth, N.J./Elizabeth) is one of 51 preseason candidates for the Doak Walker Award, which is presented to the country’s outstanding running back by the PwC SMU Athletic Forum. Last season, Graham rushed for 922 yards and eight touchdowns on just 148 carries (6.2 avg.). He is also a dangerous kick returner and ranked among the Big East’s all-purpose yardage leaders (136.3 yards/game).  
Sunseri and Smith are preseason candidates for the Davey O'Brien Award, presented to the nation's best quarterback.

In his first season as a starter, Sunseri (Pittsburgh, PA/Pittsburgh Central Catholic) passed for 2,572 yards and 16 touchdowns. He added two touchdowns on 104 rushing yards. In back-to-back October wins over Syracuse and Rutgers, Sunseri led the Panthers to 86 combined points while throwing for 589 yards and seven touchdowns.

West Virginia's Smith, a junior from Miami, threw for 2,763 yards and 24 touchdowns as a first-year starter last season.

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