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Biggest Winners From a Very Successful Pitt Pro Day



I wouldn’t say there were any truly bad performances at Pitt’s Pro Day Wednesday. Some were more active than others, Brandon Hill didn’t test and Owen Drexel only hit the bench, but it was a successful day all around.

SirVocea Dennis was very, very solid in his return to the field, especially as he jumped out of the gym with a 41.5-inch vertical, and Erick Hallett proved it wasn’t just Hill who had speed in the safety duo.

Deslin Alexandre, Habakkuk Baldonado and Tylar Wiltz were all as solid as can be. Even Johnny Petrishen’s return to the field, his goal to showcase he’s just as explosive with a bigger frame, was impressive. Again, it was an impressive day all around.

So, who are a few of the guys who measured in and/or performed very well Wednesday?

Calijah Kancey

Calijah Kancey didn’t need to prove anything Wednesday at Pro Day. He probably didn’t even need to compete.

He legged out a record-breaking 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine earlier this month, besting a time set nearly a decade ago by Aaron Donald. And he did it all at 6-foot-1, 281 pounds.

He once again measured in at 6-foot-1 Wednesday, adding two pounds of muscle to his frame this time, and he once again showcased an explosive style of play that shouldn’t be possible for a player of his size.

“They thought I was 5-10, I came in 6-1, 283,” Kancey said Wednesday. “And I kinda surprised a lot of people.”

There isn’t much more that needs to be said about Kancey at this point. He’s a superstar. But it wasn’t given, it was earned. He’s worked for it over the last three years and emerged as one of the best-testing defensive linemen in recent NFL history.

Kancey’s 33.5-inch vertical and 9-foot-4 broad jump were impressive, but his 4.33-second shuttle and 6.82-second 3-cone were historic. The 3-cone time would’ve been the best in NFL Combine history.

Pencil Kancey into the first round of next month’s NFL Draft. The only question now is how high he can rise.

Israel Abanikanda

Israel Abanikanda said that he’d heard from about 20 or so NFL teams before Wednesday’s Pro Day, but after his performance, why not all 32?

Now he’s not Bijan Robinson or Jahmyr Gibbs, but he doesn’t need to be. He just turned 20 years old, and he’s a powerful 5-foot-10 (and 5/8ths), 217 pounds, and he displayed a level of explosive power and speed that isn’t normal.

“Today was just a day for me to show out,” Abanikanda said Wednesday. “I was motivated after not participating at the Combine, so I know today was a big day for me.

“Definitely did (open some eyes), but it’s nothing new to me.”

Abanikanda wasn’t able to run at the NFL Combine earlier this month because of a minor hamstring picked up during training, but he showed he was healthy Wednesday in a big way.

He kicked the day off with a 41-inch vertical (which would have been the best at the Combine) and followed up with a 40-yard dash that

Yeah, Abanikanda was unable to compete at the NFL Combine due to a minor hamstring injury, but he was 100% healthy Wednesday and proved it. He kicked off with a 41-inch vertical (which would have been the best at the Combine among running backs) and followed with a blazing 40-yard dash that was either a high 4.2 or low 4.3 (which would have been the best at the Combine among running backs).

And he added a 10-foot-8 broad jump (which would have been the best at the Combine among running backs) for good measure.

I would say that Abanikanda has really worked toward earning himself a Day 2 selection.

Jared Wayne 

No Combine, no problem. Even if Jared Wayne said that he’s only competing against himself, not motivated by outside factors, it had to feel good to perform Wednesday.

I mean, Wayne practically leaped out of the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex with a high-flying 41.5-inch vertical jump, tied for the highest among all of Pitt’s participants. It speaks to Wayne’s ability on the football field. Quietly explosive.

Wayne measured in Wednesday at a lean 6-foot-2 (and 6/8ths) and 209 pounds, with 9 and 6/8th-inch hands, 33 and 1/8th-inch arms and a long 79 and 5/8th-inch wingspan.

He jumped out of the gym with his 41.5-inch vertical (which would have led all wide receivers at the combine), complementing it with a 10-foot-7-inch broad jump, and while he didn’t hit his fastest time in the 40-yard dash, he felt like the day as a whole was solid.

“I heard a range,” Wayne said. “I heard some in the 4.5s, and I heard some in the 4.6s, so it is what it is. At the end of the day, it’s just a number and you have to go out and play football. That’s something I’m very confident in myself.”

Wayne is a big, productive Power Five wide receiver who tested well Wednesday, showcasing very underrated athleticism. It may still be an uphill battle to be drafted next month, but he did everything in his power to receive that chance.

I don’t think there’s any doubt that he at least winds on a camp roster in the fall.

Marcus Minor

I just kept thinking about how well Marcus Minor was doing Wednesday. He just kept doing what he was supposed to — and then some.

He measured well. He’s got good size at 6-foot-4, 310 pounds. He has long arms, and a long wingspan by extension (literally), and he tested well all day.

Minor ran every test that was asked of him, starting by getting the Aaron Donald Performance Center real loud. The noise from his former teammates grew louder and louder as he pumped out reps. 31 reps on the bench were impressive.

He followed it up with a very solid 30-inch vertical, 8-foot-4 broad jump and strong speed metrics. A 5.27-second 40-yard dash doesn’t jump off the page, but it’s right in line with his size and position. A 4.69-second shuttle and 7.75-second 3-cone only furthered his rise.

It may be a long shot for Minor to hear his name called next month, but he did everything he could Wednesday to improve that likelihood. He’s big, strong and agile. And I think he’s made the case for himself.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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