Courtesy of Pittsburgh Athletics
PITTSBURGH â€” University of Pittsburgh tailback Dion Lewis received yet another honor for his fabulous freshman season when he was named the 2009 â€œBreakthrough Athlete of the Yearâ€ at the Dapper Dan Dinner & Sports Auction, held Friday night at the Petersen Events Center.
Lewis received his honor while in the company of some of the biggest luminaries in Pittsburgh sports. Among the attendees were the Pittsburgh Penguinsâ€™ Evgeni â€œGenoâ€ Malkin (the 2009 Dapper Dan Sportsman of the Year), wrestling legend Bruno Sammartino (Lifetime Achievement Award receipient) and Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.
Presenting the award to Lewis was legendary Steelers running back Franco Harris.
The Dapper Dan honor capped a highly decorated freshman year for Lewis. His other noteworthy honors include:
· Selection as the National Freshman of the Year by Sporting News, CBSSports.com and the Touchdown Club of Columbus (Ohio). He was named the Offensive Freshman of the Year by CollegeFootballNews.com.
· Selection as the Big East Offensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year, the first time a player has won both awards in the same season since Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick in 1999. Lewis was also named Unanimous First Team All-Big East, the first Pitt freshman to accomplish that feat since 2002 when receiver Larry Fitzgerald, now a perennial Pro Bowler with the Arizona Cardinals, earned the honor.
· Recognition on no fewer than eight All-America teams, including The Associated Press, Sporting News, CBSSports.com, SI.com, Phil Steele, CollegeFootballNews.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com.
· Unanimous Freshman All-America status.
· Most Valuable Player honors for the 2009 Meineke Car Care Bowl after he rushed for 159 yards and a touchdown in Pittâ€™s 19-17 victory over North Carolina.
· Selection as the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Rookie of the Year.
Lewis (Albany, N.Y./Blair Academy [N.J.]) rushed for a Pitt freshman-record 1,799 yards on 325 carries (5.5 avg.), surpassing the 36-year-old mark held by the legendary Tony Dorsett (1,686 in 1973). Overall, Lewisâ€™ total is the second-highest single-season rushing mark in Pitt history, trailing only Dorsettâ€™s 2,150 yards in 1976, the same year he won the Heisman Trophy and the Panthers won the national championship with a 12-0 record.
Lewis additionally totaled 18 touchdowns (17 rushing) for a Pitt freshman-record 108 points, breaking the prior frosh record of 90 points set in 2007 by tailback LeSean McCoy, now of the Philadelphia Eagles.
With its bowl victory over North Carolina, the Panthers finished with a 10-3 record, their winningest campaign since 1981. Pitt was ranked No. 15 in both final polls, its highest final rating since 1982.