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Pitt in the Pros

Former Pitt Star Calijah Kancey Notches Rookie Feat Unseen Since 2021



Former Pitt defensive tackle Calijah Kancey.

Calijah Kancey missed basically the entire preseason with an injury, but it certainly hasn’t impacted his ability to hit the ground running in the NFL.

With two tackles for loss in Tampa Bay’s 20-6 win over the Tennessee Titans Sunday afternoon, according to Buccaneers Communications, Kancey became the first rookie defender with multiple tackles for loss in back-to-back games for the first time since 2021.

Through six games, Kancey has racked up 11 tackles (eight solo), six tackles for loss, two sacks and five quarterback hits from his spot on the interior of the defensive line next to big Vita Vea.

According to PFF, while Kancey is still a work in progress in the run game, he’s been one of Tampa Bay’s best pass-rushers this season. He’s recorded 14 pressures and nine hurries despite missing time to start the season.

The Buccaneers drafted Kancey with the 19th pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, and he’s already rewarding that selection with promising play.

Kancey put together one of the best Pitt careers in recent memory, earning his spot in the NFL after a standout career in Pittsburgh — arriving as a little-recruited three-star out of the Miami area.

Kancey was the 2022 ACC Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time All-American (just the 13th player in program history to earn unanimous honors in 2022) during his time at Pitt.

He racked up 31 tackles (17 solo), 14.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks in 2022, in just 11 games, as he cemented himself as the leading interior pass rusher in college football — the No. 1 trait that attracted NFL teams in his draft cycle. His speed and quickness at 281 pounds are almost unheard of.

In his Pitt career, through just three seasons, Kancey recorded 91 tackles (52 solo), 34.5 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, three pass breakups and a forced fumble. It was a career that started fast and only got faster.

And now Kancey is off to a very fast start in his NFL career, too.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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