Pitt defensive line recruit Sean FitzSimmons was named the Player of the Year by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Sunday after an outstanding 2021 season at Central Valley High School. FitzSimmons is the first lineman of any kind to win the award.
The honor has been bestowed upon high school players from the Pittsburgh area since 1994. All of the players have taken part in WPIAL or City League competition, and 10 of the past selections have gone on to play professional football in the NFL.
“To be the first lineman, what an honor,” FitzSimmons said. “That really is something. ... I can’t put into words what this year was like. It was such an amazing year and what a way to go out as state champs. We had such great team chemistry, too. I had been playing with most of these guys since I was real young.”
The 6’3”, 280-pound defensive lineman was a star who shined brightest as a run-stopper and pass-rusher, as he amassed 123 total tackles, including 49 tackles for losses and 21 sacks during a season in which Central Valley went 15-0 and won a state championship. The Pitt recruit also had 448 career tackles, including 124 tackles for losses and 46 sacks.
FitzSimmons is the 10th Post-Gazette Player of the Year to continue his athletic career at Pitt. He joins Tyler Boyd, M.J. Devonshire, Dorin Dickerson, Josh Lay, Tyler Palko, Rod Rutherford, Rushel Shell, Jordan Whitehead, Brandon Williams and Tony Zimmerman. With that said, Shell and Zimmerman transferred out of the program after their freshman seasons, and Devonshire transferred in after spending his freshman season with Kentucky.
FitzSimmons, a consensus three-star recruit in the 2022 class, is set to join the Panthers next season. Upon his arrival on campus, he will join a host of former star defensive linemen from the WPIAL and City League ranks, including Devin Danielson, Elliot Donald, Dorien Ford, David Green and Dayon Hayes.