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Former Pitt Star Aaron Donald Added to CFB Hall of Fame Ballot

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Pitt defensive lineman Aaron Donald.

Aaron Donald is officially on the 2025 College Football Hall of Fame ballot, and Pitt will likely have produced back-to-back first-ballot Hall of Famers.

Donald, former Pitt quarterback Matt Cavanaugh and former Pitt running back Craig Heyward are eligible for the CFB Hall of Fame. Larry Fitzgerald was added to the ballot for the class of 2024 and inducted himself in January.

There are 77 players and nine coaches from the FBS and a further 101 players and 34 coaches from the remaining Divisions that are on the 2024 ballot.

The 2025 CFB Hall of Fame class will be unveiled in January.

Donald officially announced his retirement from the NFL on March 15, and it was the conclusion of one of the greatest careers in NFL history — a first-ballot Hall of Fame legacy and a legitimate claim as the defensive football player of all time.

Donald was a first round selection out of Pitt in 2014, following an All-American four-year career in Pittsburgh. He racked up 181 tackles (115 solo), 66 tackles for loss, 29.5 sacks, forced six fumbles and defended 10 passes during his career.

Donald’s senior campaign of 59 tackles (43 solo), 28.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, four forced fumbles and three passes defended rounded out one of the best defensive efforts in Pitt history — and college football history.

In 10 seasons in the NFL, he racked up 543 tackles (340 solo), 176 tackles for loss, 111 sacks, 24 forced fumbles and seven recoveries and 21 pass breakups — cementing himself as one of the greats in just 10 seasons.

Cavanaugh, 66, was Pitt’s starting quarterback in 1976, when they went undefeated and won the national championship. He was also the MVP of the 1977 Sugar Bowl. Cavanaugh was a 1977 All-American and finished with 3,378 career passing yards.

The Youngstown, Ohio native played in the NFL for 15 seasons, and has served as a coach for 27 years. He rejoined Pitt as a tight ends coach from 1992-93 and again as offensive coordinator from 2005-08. He most recently served as senior offensive assistant for the Washington Redskins in 2019.

The late “Ironhead” Heyward is one of the most prolific running backs in Pitt history. He racked up 3,086 yards over three seasons in Pittsburgh, which is fifth-most all-time, and his 1,791-yard season in 1987 is the third-most in single-season history.

He was selected by the New Orleans Saints with the 24th pick of the 1988 NFL Draft, and in 11 seasons, he racked up 4,301 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns and 1,559 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

Sadly, Heyward passed away at age 39 in 2006 after a battle with cancer. Heyward’s sons, Cameron and Connor, both play for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

There are currently 25 Pitt players in the College Football Hall of Fame. The last Panther to be inducted was Fitzgerald in the class of 2024.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Eric payne
Eric payne
15 days ago

After the voting for the hall of Fame, there SHOULD be 28.

Giovanni
Giovanni
14 days ago

Slam-Dunk.

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