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Six Pitt Panthers Headed to the 2023 NFL Combine



The NFL Combine is perhaps the premier event of the offseason for draft hopefuls to make a mark.

It’s a week-long spectacle at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, where the top NFL Draft prospects run drills, meet and interview with NFL teams and have a chance to impress NFL personnel with their play and measurables.

Pitt will send a large contingent to Indianapolis this year:

  • RB Israel Abanikanda
  • OT Carter Warren
  • LB SirVocea Dennis
  • DE Habakkuk Baldonado
  • DT Calijah Kancey
  • S Brandon Hill

Dennis impressed at the Senior Bowl while Baldonado and Warren competed at the Shrine Bowl already this offseason. It will be the first chance for Abanikanda, Kancey and Hill as all three are underclassmen.

Abanikanda 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.

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

Warren wasn’t able to finish his senior season in 2022 after picking up an injury against Rhode Island in Week 4, but he put together a superb Pitt career.

He played in 40 games (making 39 starts) during his six seasons in Pittsburgh, growing into a team captain and an All-ACC performer. At 6-foot-5, 325 pounds, he’s the ideal size for a tackle in the NFL.

Dennis led Pitt with 94 tackles (42 solo) this season, along with 12 tackles for loss, seven sacks, an interception three pass breakups and two forced fumbles.

In his career at Pitt, Dennis racked up 232 tackles (117 solo), 36 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, two interceptions (including one returned for a touchdown), three pass breakups and two forced fumbles and a recovery.

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 three seasons, Kancey recorded 91 tackles (52 solo), 34.5 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, three pass breakups and a forced fumble.

Baldonado finished his Pitt career with 98 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, a forced fumble, two recoveries and two pass breakups. He earned All-ACC honors in 2021 when he compiled 41 tackles, nine sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

Baldonado has the size, physical tools, football IQ and leadership to be the next Pitt defensive end to make the jump to the next level and succeed.

In four seasons at Pitt, Hill racked up 172 tackles (91 solo), three tackles for loss, three interceptions, 12 pass breakups, three forced fumbles, two recoveries and two defensive touchdowns.

Hill broke out as a star safety in 2021, earning All-ACC second-team honors for his efforts, racking up 71 tackles (38 solo), a tackle for loss, two interceptions, five pass breakups, a forced fumble and a recovery.

While his 2022 impact wasn’t as apparent (67 tackles, two pass breakups and a fumble returned for a touchdown), opposing quarterbacks didn’t throw Hill’s way in coverage as often.

The 2023 NFL Combine begins Thursday, March 2 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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1 year ago

Hill, but no Hallett? Seems odd.

Terrence Otoole
1 year ago

No wayne ,he should have came back for another year

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