Widely considered two of the nation's best at their respective positions, Pitt linebacker Scott McKillop and tailback LeSean McCoy today were named preseason candidates for the prestigious Walter Camp Player of the Year award.
The preseason Walter Camp "watch list" is comprised of 35 players. The list will be narrowed to 15 semifinalists in early November. The 2008 Walter Camp Player of the Year recipient, who is selected by a vote of the 119 NCAA Bowl Subdivision head coaches and sports information directors, will be announced on the ESPN/Home Depot College Football Awards Show in December.
Three Pitt players have won the Walter Camp Player of the Year award, including running back Tony Dorsett (1976), defensive end Hugh Green (1980) and receiver Larry Fitzgerald (2003). This year's winner will be honored at the Walter Camp Foundation's annual national awards banquet on January 10, 2009, at the Yale University Commons in New Haven, Conn.
McKillop (Export, Pa./Kiski Area) is coming off an outstanding junior campaign in which he led the nation in tackles, averaging 12.58 per game, and finished second in solos (8.17 avg.). He received a slew of postseason honors in 2007, including selection to four different All-America squads. McKillop additionally was a unanimous first-team All-Big East pick by the league's coaches and CollegeFootballNews.com's Big East Defensive Player of the Year.
The centerpiece of one of Pitt's finest defenses in recent memory, McKillop spearheaded a unit that finished fifth nationally in total defense, yielding just 297.67 yards per game.
McCoy (Harrisburg, Pa./Bishop McDevitt/Milford Academy [N.Y.]) earned status as one of the nation's elite newcomers last year. He was the country's top freshman rusher with 110.67 yards per game - eight yards better than the second-leading frosh (Georgia's Knowshon Moreno, 102.62 yds./game). Among all rushers, McCoy finished 21st nationally and second in the Big East.
McCoy set Pitt freshman records for points (90) and rushing touchdowns (14), breaking two longstanding marks established by the legendary Tony Dorsett (78 points and 13 rushing TDs) in 1973. McCoy's 2007 honors included being named a unanimous Freshman All-American, the Big East Rookie of the Year and first team All-Big East Conference.
McKillop and McCoy are two of 17 returning starters for the Panthers, who are being touted as a team to watch both in the Big East and nationally this year.
The Panthers, ranked No. 25 in the Associated Press preseason poll, open the season Aug. 30 against Bowling Green at Heinz Field. Kickoff is set for noon.