12 Pitt Panthers Named to Athlon Sports’ Preseason All-ACC Teams
Pitt racked up a second-best nine All-ACC members following the conclusion of the 2022 season, including four first-team nods.
While a large chunk of those All-ACC members are now in the NFL, Athlon Sports expects Pitt to once again rank among the best teams in the ACC when it comes to representation.
Clemson and Florida State lead the way with 15 selections while Pitt, North Carolina, Miami and Wake Forest each have double-digit selections.
Ben Sauls is Pitt’s lone first-teamer, but Rodney Hammond, Jake Kradel, Matt Goncalves and M.J. Devonshire earned second-team nods, Konata Mumpfield, Gavin Bartholomew, Shayne, Simon, Bangally Kamara and Marquis Williams earned third-team nods and Devin Danielson and Dayon Hayes earned fourth-team nods.
Preseason All-ACC ✨ @AthlonSports#H2P » #WeNotMe pic.twitter.com/51QvpV6F6F
— Pitt Football (@Pitt_FB) May 24, 2023
Sauls won the starting job from Sam Scarton last summer, emerging as Pitt’s starting kicker and kickoff specialist. He connected on 20-of-24 field goal attempts and all 47 point-after attempts.
He also put together his best performance of the season in the Sun Bowl, nailing all five field goal attempts, including a 47-yarder for the win with four seconds in the fourth quarter.
Hammond has very large shoes to fill when it comes to replacing All-ACC, All-American Israel Abanikanda, but he flashed when his name was called last season. After a strong true freshman campaign, he followed up with 109 carries for 460 yards and five touchdowns last season in limited action.
Hammond will lead the backfield in 2023, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him earn first-team honors following the season.
Kradel and Goncalves each earned third-team All-ACC honors following the 2022 season, and they will once again be pivotal pieces on the offensive line in 2023.
Kradel will anchor Pitt’s line from the center spot while Goncalves will hold down the right tackle spot on the outside. If the season goes well, I could see both Kradel and Goncalves trying their luck at the NFL following the season, too.
Devonshire racked up 34 tackles (23 solo), three interceptions (two returned for touchdowns), eight pass breakups and returned 24 punts for 233 yards and another touchdown.
He will once again be expected to be one of the top cornerbacks and return men in the ACC.
Neither Mumpfield nor Bartholomew had the season they wanted in 2022 (58 receptions for 551 yards and a touchdown for Mumpfield and 21 receptions for 283 yards and two touchdowns for Bartholomew), but with a second season in Frank Cignetti Jr.’s offense and a new quarterback, I’d expect both of their numbers to jump in a big way.
With a young wide receiving corps, Mumpfield and Bartholomew will be relied upon in a major way in 2023.
Simon and Kamara will be key pieces in the defense in 2023 and without SirVocea Dennis to marshal the troops next season, their play will be pivotal. Simon will occupy the Mike linebacker spot, coming off an excellent debut season at Pitt, and Kamara will be at Star.
If there’s a breakout candidate on the defense, it’s Kamara. He recorded 49 tackles (25 solo), three tackles for loss, a sack, an interception and seven pass breakups last season. It took a while for him to truly look comfortable on the field, but with another offseason under his belt, the sky will be the limit.
Williams was one of the best cornerbacks in the ACC last season, not often targeted by opposing quarterbacks, and he still recorded two interceptions — taking both back for touchdowns.
Danielson is a key veteran on the defensive line, forming a veteran core with David Green, and his high motor from the middle of the defense will be vital in allowing someone like Hayes to make an impact.
Hayes is another candidate to finally put together a true breakout season. He’s flashed potential over the last couple of seasons, and as of the ‘old man’ of the defensive ends now, it’s his time to shine.
It was an up-and-down 2022 campaign, recording 4.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks, but 2023 is his chance to put it all together and flash his enormous potential.
K — Ben Sauls
RB — Rodney Hammond Jr.
OL — Matt Goncalves
OL — Jake Kradel
CB — M.J. Devonshire
PR — M.J. Devonshire
WR — Konata Mumpfield
TE — Gavin Bartholomew
LB — Bangally Kamara
LB — Shayne Simon
CB — Marquis Williams
DL — Devin Danielson
DL — Dayon Hayes
If they can stay healthy, I believe Kamara, Hayes, and Williams will all surprise to the upside. All 3 can be dominant and are NFL caliber.