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Jimmy Morrissey named to Rimington Trophy watch list

The center is the third Pitt player placed on an award watch list in 2019

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NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt center Jimmy Morrissey was placed on the preseason watchlist for the Dave Rimington Trophy, which has been given to the top center in the nation every year since 2000. Morrissey was one of 80 centers in the country and seven from the ACC to be nominated for the honor.

The other ACC nominees include Kenny Cooper of Georgia Tech, Alec Lindstrom of Boston College, T.J. McCoy of Louisville, Sean Pollard of Clemson, Airon Servais of Syracuse and Jack Wohlabaugh of Duke.

Morrissey has been a key contributor for Pitt since 2017, when he won the starting center job in the preseason. After that, he became a regular on the Panthers offensive line and started in all 23 of Pitt’s games from Sept. 2, 2017, to Nov. 17, 2018. However, in that last game, he suffered a season-ending injury to his right ankle. His injury came at the end of a six-yard touchdown run by Stefano Millin.

The 6’3”, 305-pound center’s return is a major development for Pitt, as his absence toward the end of last season visibly hindered the team. In the last four games he took part in, the Panthers offense averaged 40.8 points and 518.3 yards per game. In Pitt’s final three games of the season, all of which were played without Morrissey on the line, the Panthers averaged 8.7 points and 247.7 yards.

While Morrissey's absence was not the only factor in Pitt's late-season decline, it's no coincidence that the offense stumbled without him. Entering the 2018 season, he was one of the top centers in the ACC in terms of pass-block efficiency, as he allowed just two sacks and five quarterback hurries in 407 offensive snaps involving pass blocking. That earned him a 98.6 pass-blocking efficiency rating, according to Pro Football Focus.

Morrissey is the third Pitt player to be named to an award watchlist this month. Panthers safety Damar Hamlin is a candidate for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top defensive player, and Maurice Ffrench is a nominee for the Maxwell Award, which is given to the most outstanding college football player in the country.