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Pitt in the Pros

Watch: Former Pitt RB Israel Abanikanda Scores 1st NFL TD



Former Pitt running back Israel Abanikanda is currently playing in his first NFL game. The fifth round pick of his hometown New York Jets scored the first touchdown of the 2023 NFL season in their Hall of Fame preseason game against the Cleveland Browns.

Abanikanda was drafted after a standout Pitt career that included numerous first team All-American and All-ACC nods in 2022. During his breakout 2022 season rushed for 1,431 yards and 20 touchdowns while adding another touchdown through the air.

The highlight of his Pitt career came in 2022’s week six win (45-29) against Virginia Tech. In that game, he broke Tony Dorsett’s single game rushing yard record (303 yards). Dorsett remains Pitt’s only Heisman and is a member of both the College and Pro Football Hall of Fames.

In that same game, Abanikanda also tied a 112-year-old single-game rushing touchdown record (six) which was set by Norman Budd against Ohio in 1910. He also tied the ACC record, which was set by North Carolina’s Kelvin Bryant against East Carolina in 1981.

Abanikanda, alongside LaDainian Tomlinson and Ricky Williams, are the only players from current Power Five programs to rush for 300 yards and score six rush TDs in a game over the last 25 seasons.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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