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Pitt Football

Habakkuk Baldonado, Caljiah Kancey Named to All-ACC Preseason Team

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It’s no secret that Pitt’s defensive line is loaded entering the 2022 season, and with the All-ACC preseason team released Wednesday, it’s clear Pitt and Clemson are the class of the conference entering the season.

Calijah Kancey inside Habakkuk Baldonado outside earned preseason All-ACC honors, as voted upon by the 164 ACC media voters at last week’s ACC Media Days. After first- and second-team honors following the 2021 season, respectively, both are expected to put together even better seasons in pursuit of another ACC title.

As a sophomore in 2021, earning first-team All-ACC and third-team All-American honors, Kancey racked up 35 tackles (25 solo), 13 tackles for loss, seven sacks, a forced fumble and a pass defense as the anchor of Pitt’s stellar defensive line.

In just two seasons, he’s compiled 62 tackles (37 solo), 20 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, three passes defended and a forced fumble. And that’s all come as a defensive tackle — an anchor inside.

Kancey has been named Lott Impact Trophy, Outland Trophy and Bronko Nagurski Award watchlists and has been given preseason first-team All-ACC and preseason first- and second-team All-American honors this offseason.

“That’s the standard here, sacks and TFLs,” Kancey said in March. “Everyone here is ready, a lot of young guys stepping up and a lot of older guys just polishing and knocking off the rust.”

With 41 tackles (26 solo), 12 tackles for loss, nine sacks and a forced fumble and recovery, Baldonado earned second-team All-ACC honors in 2021, but that came despite leaving a lot on the field. Narduzzi felt like Baldonado was within seconds of half a dozen to a dozen more sacks, and defensive line coach Charlie Partridge felt the same way.

“I would say it was a pretty good season, but I missed a lot of plays I could’ve made,” Baldonado said in April. “So, that’s what I’m trying to do this year, tuning the fine details that on the plays that I missed last year.

In three seasons at Pitt, with the 2020 season limited to just just two games and very limited snaps, Baldonado has racked up 74 tackles (39 solo), 16.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, a forced fumble and recovery.

The All-ACC defensive line also features Clemson’s Myles Murphy and Bryan Breese. North Carolina State’s Drake Thomas and Parker Wilson are joined by Clemson’s Trenton Simpson at linebacker. And the secondary is made up of Louisville’s Kei’Trel Clark, Boston College’s Josh DeBerry, Florida State’s Jammie Robinson and North Carolina State’s Tanner Ingle.

The All-ACC offense is headlined by North Carolina State’s Devin Leary, the projected ACC Player of the Year, at quarterback.

Syracuse’s Sean Tucker and Clemson’s Will Shipley feature at running back, and North Carolina’s Josh Downs, Wake Forest’s A.T. Perry and Boston College’s Zay Flowers make up the wide receiving corps. Miami’s Will Mallory is the projected tight end and Virginia’s Keytaon Thompson is projected as the all-purpose player.

The offensive line is made up of Clemson’s Jordan McFadden, Miami’s Zion Nelson, Louisville’s Caleb Chandler, Boston College’s Christian Mahogany and North Carolina State’s Grant Gibson.

And Clemson’s B.T. Potter at kicker, Miami’s Lou Headley at punter and Downs at special teams specialist round out the special teams unit.

Player of the Year voting features Leary (40 votes) followed by Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman (30), Miami’s Tyler Van Dyke (21), Breese (14) and Virginia’s Brennan Armstrong (14) in the top five.

2022 All-ACC Preseason Team

Offense

QB — NCST’s Devin Leary (56 votes)

RB — Syracuse’s Sean Tucker (125)

RB — Clemson’s Will Shipley (112)

WR — UNC’s Josh Downs (128)

WR — WF’s A.T Perry (111)

WR — BC’s Zay Flowers (104)

TE — Miami’s Will Mallory (69)

AP — UVa’s Keytaon Thompson (70)

OT — Clemson’s Jordan McFadden (127)

OT — Miami’s Zion Nelson (82)

OG — Louisville’s Caleb Chandler (104)

OG — BC’s Christian Mahogany (67)

C — NCST’s Grant Gibson (90)

Defense 

DE — Clemson’s Myles Murphy (120)

DE — Pitt’s Habakkuk Baldonado (54)

DT — Clemson’s Bryan Breese (116)

DT — Pitt’s Calijah Kancey (62)

LB — NCST’s Drake Thomas (92)

LB — Clemson’s Trent Simpson (82)

LB — NCST’s Payton Wilson (60)

CB — Louisville’s Kei’Trel Clark (70)

CB — BC’s Josh DeBerry (65)

S — FSU’s Jammie Robinson (93)

S — NCST’s Tanner Ingle (63)

Special Teams 

PK — Clemson’s B.T Potter (99)

P — Miami’s Lou Headley (101)

SP — UNC’s Josh Downs (57)

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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