Calijah Kancey did it all while at Pitt, after arriving as an under-recruited three-star out of Florid, and he’s leaving for the NFL as a unanimous All-American and superstar defensive lineman.
Kancey picked up first-team All-American honors from Sporting News, the Walter Camp Football Foundation, FWAA and AP, joining an exclusive list of unanimous All-Americans from Pitt.
Kancey will not play in the Sun Bowl as he recovers from surgery.
— Calijah Kancey (@Ckancey8) December 22, 2022
With 31 tackles (17 solo), 14.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks this season, Kancey finished second in the ACC in tackles for loss and third in sacks as an interior defensive lineman — despite missing a game and a half.
In his Pitt career, through nearly three seasons, Kancey has recorded 91 tackles (52 solo), 34.5 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, three pass breakups and a forced fumble.
“Calijah has been absolutely outstanding all season long and is highly deserving of this honor,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said in a release earlier this season. “As both a run stopper and rushing the passer, he has been tremendous. On behalf of our entire program, I want to congratulate Calijah on receiving this award. He has absolutely earned it.”
Kancey earned the ACC Defensive Player of the Year honor this season, was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski and Outland Trophies and College Football Network’s Defensive Tackle of the Year.
“I’ve heard some guys tell me second round, somebody told me three or four weeks ago he’s a poor man’s version of Aaron Donald,” PFN’s Tony Pauline said. “He has been very productive the past two seasons, and someone I spoke with earlier today said, after he released that thing that he wasn’t gonna play because of the injury, they said his draft stock is never gonna be any higher because he’s not gonna grow three inches taller and be able to put on 30 pounds, which is very true.”
The Donald-Kancey comparison is obvious, considering the alma mater. But it goes way beyond just wearing the same jersey. Donald was listed at 6-foot, 285 as a senior at Pitt. Kancey is listed at 6-foot, 280 this season.
Kancey is the first Pitt defender to win ACC DPoY since Donald in 2013, and he can become the first Pitt defender since Donald to win the Nagurski and Outland Trophies later this year. Kancey hasn’t been quite as productive as Donald during his Pitt career, but Pat Narduzzi has said that when it comes to defensive linemen during his time at Pitt, Kancey is the clear No. 1.
Kancey will no doubt earn Senior Bowl — or another postseason bowl appearance — and NFL Combine invites ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft.