Gregg Giannotti is the co-host of CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones, but before that, he was a sideline reporter for the Pitt Panthers. In fact, he covered part of Aaron Donald’s career at Pitt and watched him go from a guy who was relatively anonymous to a guy that won major college awards and is now arguably the best defensive tackle in the NFL.
Donald was a menace during his senior season at Pitt. In 2013, he had 59 tackles – 28.5 for a loss – to go with 11.0 sacks and four forced fumbles. After the season, Giannotti asked Donald what he thought was his best game of the season and was sure the 6-0, 285-pounder would say his performance against Syracuse or Georgia Tech.
“I’ve never seen anybody kick so much ass in a football game in my life,” Giannotti recalled.
Donald, however, didn’t cite either game. Instead, he said it was his game against then-No. 23 Notre Dame.
Why? Because that was Pitt’s biggest win of the season.
That’s an unselfishness and team-first philosophy that you don’t always see among superstars these days.
“(That’s) just the way I was raised,” Donald said. “Mom and dad, I got a dad that’s a tough guy, and I got the mom that wanted me to be the mama’s boy and baby me. But just the parents that I grew up with, they just (raised) me that type of way and instilled that into me. That’s just the way I was raised. That’s just how I am. I can’t help it. That’s just how I am.”
Donald, who was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year and a unanimous All-American that season, was the 13th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2014 and was a first-team All-Pro in 2015. He has 116 tackles, 20.0 sacks and two forced fumbles in 32 career games for the Rams.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Donald, who only had a handful of scholarship offers coming out of high school. “It’s just good to see the body of work that I’ve put into this and just see it unfold and see how much came out of it. It’s truly a blessing. I’m blessed. Like I always say, hard work, it really do pay off. That’s why I’m the type of person I am because of that.”