When I think about Aaron Donald's season, I'm pretty disappointed that we haven't really given the big man his due this year. The fact is that he's been so remarkable, it's pretty easy to take his performances for granted. But make no mistake, Donald is having one of the best defensive seasons in Pitt's storied history.
The point has been made repeatedly, but it's really hard to see the true value of what Donald has done as an interior lineman. He's doing something generally reserved for defensive ends, constantly disrupting the flow of games and opposing offenses.
That point is proven when you consider he's the only interior lineman finalist up for the Rotary Award - an award given strictly to linemen or linebackers.
One thing that's pretty remarkable is that Donald's play doesn't seem to change all that much even against better competition. I've made a point of saying that the offense, in particular, has been pretty substandard against better defenses, but Donald hasn't let even the better teams on Pitt's schedule stop him.
Against the two teams currently ranked, Florida State and Duke, Donald had a sack in each game. Against Virginia Tech, he had three tackles for loss and a pair of sacks. Against Georgia Tech, he had a season-high 11 tackles, a whopping six tackles for loss, and a sack.
All told, Donald has ten sacks and leads the nation in tackles for losses with 2.3 per game. Fact is that no one is even close, either, as Donald averages .5 TFLs more than any other player in college football. One thing you don't hear about are his forced fumbles, but Donald has four of those, too. His .4 per game are good for eight in the nation.
Dude is taking no prisoners.
As disappointing as it is that Donald will be moving on to the NFL this season, keep in mind that we almost didn't get to witness what he's doing. He entertained thoughts of entering the Draft last season and if he were projected higher, there was a good chance he wouldn't have come back.
Make no mistake - this is one of the most dominant seasons you'll ever see from a Pitt player on defense.