Pitt senior linebacker Sirvocea Dennis and redshirt junior defensive lineman Calijah Kancey both earned a spot on the Rotary Lombardi Award watch list Monday. The best defensive lineman or linebacker wins the Lombardi Award annually.
Dennis led the team with 87 tackles, third with 9.5 tackles for loss, and also made four sacks last season. He is returning as the leader of the Panthers’ linebacker core, working well either in coverage or getting through on a blitz. For instance, on a blitz against Clemson last season, he intercepted a shuffle pass and returned it for a touchdown.
SirVocea Dennis breaks down 𝓽𝓱𝓮 play that had Heinz Field rocking last Saturday.
— Pitt Football (@Pitt_FB) October 29, 2021
Kancey is coming off a stellar season as an interior defensive lineman. In his sophomore season in 2021, Kancey led Pitt in tackles for loss with 13 and finished second with seven sacks. He also made 35 tackles (25 solo) a forced fumble and a pass defended. For his efforts, Kancey placed on the first-team All-ACC and third-team All-American.
Kancey is also on the watchlist for five other preseason awards. This includes the Walter Camp Award for best player, Nagurski Award for top defensive player, Outland Trophy for best interior lineman and Lott Trophy for most impactful defensive player. He earned a spot on the Chuck Bednarik Award for best defensive player along with redshirt senior defensive lineman Habakkuk Baldonado.
Two Pitt players have won the Lombardi Trophy before, with Hugh Green winning it in 1980 and Aaron Donald winning it In 2013.