December 9, 2003

Fitgerald Named To Sporting News All-American Team

University of Pittsburgh receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who leads the country in four different statistical categories, has been named a first team All-American by The Sporting News.

This is already the third All-America citation for Fitzgerald. He previously was named a first team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

Fitzgerald (Minneapolis, Minn./Academy of the Holy Angels/Valley Forge Military Academy [Pa.]) is a finalist for the Walter Camp Award (outstanding player), Maxwell Award (outstanding player) and Biletnikoff Award (outstanding receiver). He is expected to be Pittsburgh's first Heisman Trophy finalist since 1987 when those players are announced Wednesday evening.

Fitzgerald leads the country in receiving yards per game (132.9 avg.), total receiving yards (1,595), receiving TDs (22) and total TDs (22). He ranks third in points per game (11.0 avg.), while ranking seventh in receptions (7.3 avg.).

The prolific wideout has set two NCAA receiving records this season, including consecutive games with a TD catch (18) and TD catches as a freshman and sophomore (34). He has tied the NCAA mark for games catching a TD pass in one season (12-tied with Marshall's Randy Moss, 1997).

He additionally has set seven Big East receiving records this year: single-season receiving yards (1,595), single-season receptions (87), single-season TD catches (22), career TD catches (34), career 1,000-yard receiving seasons (two), career 100-yard receiving games (14) and single-season 100-yard receiving games (10).

The Sporting News also announced its annual Freshman All-America and All-Conference honors. Redshirt freshman Brian Bennett (Delanco, N.J./Holy Cross) was named a second team Freshman All-American and the Big East Conference's Defensive Freshman of the Year. Bennett finished the regular season as Pittsburgh's second-leading tackler with 118 stops. Redshirt freshman offensive guard John Simonitis (Dallas, Pa./Dallas) was named to the Big East All-Freshman Team.

Pittsburgh finished the regular-season with an 8-4 overall record and 5-2 Big East mark. The Panthers will play Virginia (7-5) in the Continental Tire Bowl Dec. 27, their fourth consecutive postseason bid. The four consecutive bowl berths mark the Panthers' best postseason stretch since advancing to nine straight from 1975-83.

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