Pitt defensive linemen, redshirt senior Habakkuk Baldonado and redshirt junior Calijah Kancey each placed on the Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List Monday. The best defensive player of the year wins the Bednarik Award annually.
Baldonado returned back to playing full time after missing most of the 2020 season, starting all 14 games for the Panthers last season. He made nine sacks, 41 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss and a forced fumble, earning him a reputation as one of the best edge rushers in the NCAA and also second-team All-ACC honors.
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 four 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.
Baldonado and Kancey also earned spots on the All-ACC preseason team.
The only Pitt player to win the Bednarik Award was Aaron Donald in 2013.