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Jabaal Sheard named Big East Defensive Player of the Year

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Senior defensive end and Hendricks Award candidate among seven Panthers named to All-Big East Team

University of Pittsburgh senior defensive end Jabaal Sheard added to his lengthy list of postseason honors today when he was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year by league coaches.

Sheard becomes the fifth Pitt player to be honored as the Big East’s top defensive player, joining former standouts in linebacker H.B. Blades (2006), linebacker Scott McKillop (2008), defensive end Greg Romeus (co-player of the year, 2009) and defensive tackle Mick Williams (co-player of the year, 2009).

Sheard was a unanimous first-team All-Big East honoree, highlighting seven Pitt selections to the all-conference team. The Panthers’ other first-team picks include junior receiver Jon Baldwin, senior safety Dom DeCicco, senior punter Dan Hutchins and senior offensive tackle Jason Pinkston. Pitt’s second-team honorees include sophomore safety Jarred Holley and junior defensive end Brandon Lindsey.

An AFCA All-American, Sheard (Hollywood Hills, Fla./Hollywood Hills) has compiled 52 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, nine sacks, four forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He leads the Big East in forced fumbles (tied, 0.33 forced fumbles/game), ranks second in tackles for loss (tied, 1.21 TFLs/game) and is third in sacks (tied, 0.75 sacks/game). Nationally, he ranks fifth in forced fumbles and 21st in sacks.

Baldwin (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa) was a first-team All-Big East pick for the second consecutive year. He has 52 receptions for 810 yards (15.6 avg.) and five TDs this season.

DeCicco (Jefferson Hills, Pa./Thomas Jefferson) split his time between strong safety and Will linebacker this year. He has compiled 85 tackles, four TFLs and five interceptions. DeCicco ranks second in the Big East and 11th nationally (tied) with an average of 0.45 interceptions per game.

Hutchins (Williamsport, Pa./Loyalsock Township) is a major defensive weapon for the Panthers, averaging a conference-best 45.1 yards per punt. His efforts have helped Pitt lead the Big East and rank sixth nationally in net punting (40.3 avg.).

Pinkston (Pittsburgh, Pa./Baldwin) earned his second consecutive first-team All-Big East honor. The cornerstone of Pitt’s offensive front, he has made 40 career starts.

Holley (Easton, Pa./Easton Area) has collected 50 tackles and five interceptions from his free safety position. He ranks third in the Big East and 15th nationally with an average of 0.42 interceptions per game.

Lindsey (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa) leads the Big East in tackles for loss (1.33 TFLs/game) and ranks second in sacks (0.83 sacks/game). On the season he has totaled 47 tackles, 16 TFLs, 10 sacks and three forced fumbles.

Pitt will make its third consecutive postseason appearance when it plays Kentucky in the BVAA Compass Bowl on January 8 in Birmingham.

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