Pitt Panthers Claim ACC Gridiron Rookie Of The Year Awards


The Pitt Panthers concluded the 2015 season under first-year head coach Pat Narduzzi with an 8-4 mark overall and a 6-2 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Blue and Gold finished in second place in the Coastal Division behind the North Carolina Tarheels (11-1 / 8-0 ACC).

With accomplishment on the gridiron come post-season accolades. A pair of Panthers claimed conference awards Tuesday as freshman safety Jordan Whitehead received both the ACC’s overall and defensive Rookie of the Year honors. They also announced freshman running back Qadree Ollison as the offensive Rookie of the Year.

The Pitt Panthers are the first program to sweep the ACC rookie honors in the same season from the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.

“Our entire program takes great pride in these well-deserved honors for Jordan and Qadree,” Narduzzi said on the team’s website. “Even though they are freshmen, we gave them a lot of responsibility this season and they responded in outstanding fashion. Their production on the field speaks for itself. More importantly, both Jordan and Qadree grew as leaders for our team.”

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Whitehead led the Blue and Gold with a total of 99 tackles. The Aliquippa, Pennsylvania native claimed the most stops by a Pitt true freshman in 28 years. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound defensive back averaged 8.2 tackles per game which ranked him eighth in the ACC. Whitehead was the only freshman among the top 10 tacklers in the conference.

The Central Valley product’s contributions during the regular season did not end on defense. During the month of November, Whitehead participated on offense. He put up 79 rushing yards on 10 carries and two touchdowns. He averaged 7.9 yards per carry and added two pass receptions to the score sheet.

After the injury to junior tailback James Conner, Pitt discovered just how much talent they had in the back field with Ollison. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound running back became just the fifth freshman in Panthers history to obtain a 1,000-yard rushing season. The Niagara Falls, New York native netted a total of 1,048 yards on 204 carries and 10 touchdowns. The Canisius High School product averaged 5.1 yards per carry.

Next: Pitt Racks Up Four Wins, Awaits No. 11 Purdue Boilermakers

The Blue and Gold will find out their bowl match-up when the selections become known this Sunday.

From The Clipboard: Zach Ellis at Sports Illustrated is projecting that Pitt will take on Arkansas in the Music City Bowl on December 30th in Nashville, Tennessee.

The staff at FanSided are forecasting a trip for the Panthers to the Military Bowl against Navy on December 28th in Annapolis, Maryland.