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Pitt RB Israel Abanikanda Opts Out of Sun Bowl, Declares for NFL Draft

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Pitt’s all-time single-game rushing leader has declared for the NFL.

Israel Abanikanda put together one of the best efforts by a running back in Pitt history in 2022, leading the NCAA as an all-purpose threat, and he’s using that as a launch pad to the NFL. He announced on Twitter that will forego the Sun Bowl and begin preparation for the NFL Draft.

“First and foremost, I want to thank God, my family, close friends, personal trainers and the University of Pittsburgh & Coach Narduzzi along with Coach Powell and the entire coaching staff for making me into the man I have become over the years.”

Abanikanda finished fourth in all-purpose yards (1,805 yards) and second in all-purpose yards per game (164 yards) in college football this season, and he led the nation in total touchdowns (21).

He’s rushed for 1,431 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2022, averaging six yards per attempt, and he added 146 receiving yards and 228 kickoff return yards. It’s not unfair to say he kept Pitt’s offense afloat.

In his Pitt career, Abanikanda rushed for 2,177 yards ad 28 touchdowns on 390 carries, caught 38 passes for 354 yards and three touchdowns and returned 19 kickoffs for 434 yards and a touchdown.

Abanikanda’s junior season ranks as the eighth-best single-season effort in Pitt history, and his 320 yards and six touchdowns against Virginia Tech broke and tied, respectively, single-game records.

His 28 career touchdowns also rank eighth in team history, while he’s just one of four Pitt players to rush for at least 20 touchdowns in a single season.

With his explosive blend of speed and power, and without the wear and tear of a long, grueling college career, Abanikanda is well-positioned for the NFL Draft. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a dominant effort at the NFL Combine.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Pittband
Pittband
1 month ago

Best of luck.

Dan
Dan
1 month ago

Just ONCE. I’d like no BS. I don’t need the “with a lot of discussion and prayer” bs. You’re going pro to make money. We get it. But there was no “decision” to be made on your end. There never was.

Tim
Tim
1 month ago
Reply to  Dan

Respectfully speaking, what would you say, personally? I’m not trying to be negative or anything. Just curious. I’m ok with these statements.

Ed Rose
Ed Rose
1 month ago

He will be adding to the list of great Pitt NFL running backs.

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