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Israel Abanikanda Not Running at NFL Combine, Waiting Until Pro Day



INDIANAPOLIS — Pitt will not have the chance for claiming the speed crown in three separate positions this week.

Israel Abanikanda, who was expected to be among the fastest running backs — and overall players — at the NFL Combine, will not participate in on-field drills until Pitt’s Pro Day.

“I’m going to be participating at the Pro Day instead of the Combine,” Abanikanda said Saturday at the NFL Combine. “I had a little, minor hamstring injury Feb. 10 during my training, so me and my trainer and my agent talked about, and we said I’d rather be better prepared for everybody to see what I can do on Pro Day.”

Abanikanda, who was one of the premier breakaway threats in college football during the 2022 season, pointed to his ‘home run’ ability as perhaps his greatest strength, and he’s confident in his ability to impress on Pro Day.

“That time is going to be real fast, trust me,” Abanikanda said.

Calijah Kancey kicked off the 40-yard dash party with a lightning-fast 4.67 on Thursday, breaking Aaron Donald’s defensive lineman record and pacing the group in Indianapolis this year.

Brandon Hill followed up with a great 4.43 40 Friday, leading the way for all safeties in Indy.

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

He 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 during a sometimes lackluster overall showing in 2022.

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.

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.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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