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Three Pitt players earn first-team All-ACC honors

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Jaylen Twyman, Jimmy Morrissey and Paris Ford all made the first team

NCAA Football: North Carolina at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Associated Press announced its All-ACC teams on Tuesday, and five Pitt players were recognized by members of the media as all-conference talents. The first-team honorees included Jimmy Morrissey at center, Jaylen Twyman at defensive tackle and Paris Ford at safety. The second-team honorees included Patrick Jones II at defensive end and Dane Jackson at cornerback. Twyman was one of six unanimous selections on the AP’s 26-man All-ACC first team.

Four of the five honorees came from Pitt’s vaunted defense, which finished the regular season ranked third in the nation in sacks, 11th in tackles for losses and 11th in total defense. This season, the Panthers logged 49 sacks and 98 tackles for losses and allowed just 302.5 yards per game. The one knock on the Pitt defense is that it struggled at times to keep points off the board, as it gave up 21.8 points per game and allowed the opposition to score 25 or more points in six of the team’s 12 games. That proved problematic for Pitt, as its stagnant offense averaged 20.1 points per game, which ranked 115th in the nation.

Twyman and Ford emerged as leaders of the Pitt defense in 2019. For Ford, it was an expected development that had been awaited since he first took the field for the Panthers as a former blue-chip recruit back in 2018, and he rewarded Pitt fans for their patience with a breakout season in which he led the team in tackles, with 79, and interceptions, with three. For Twyman, the breakout season was a product of intense preparation and sudden necessity, as he bulked up in the offseason and stepped in for an injured Keyshon Camp in Week 1. He would lead the team in sacks, with 10.5, and tackles for losses, with 12.

Jones and Jackson were leaders in their own right, as Jackson led the team in passes defended, with 12, while Jones supported Twyman’s efforts on the defensive line, coming up with 8.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for losses. And although Pitt’s offense struggled, Morrissey maintained his status as one of the most respected centers in the nation and adapted as the team ushered out the RBU era and adopted a pass-happy approach.

The AP’s All-ACC teams were released one week after the ACC released its All-ACC teams as voted on by 46 members of the media and the 14 head coaches of the conference. The AP teams are voted on by a panel of 14 media members who cover the conference. This year, the AP and the ACC came up with the same first- and second-team selections for Pitt. However, the conference also honored Maurice Ffrench and Bryce Hargrove as members of the third team, while Kylan Johnson and Amir Watts received honorable mention.