shelter – Calijah Kancey earns unanimous All-American status

The NCAA recognizes five All-American teams to determine consensus and unanimous All-Americans. Pitt junior defensive tackle Calijah Kancey has now been named a first-team All-American by all five of those selectors, making him the 15th unanimous All-American in Pitt football history.

On Wednesday, the AFCA named Kancey a first-team All-American. He also received those same honors from the Associated Press, FWAA, The Sporting News, and the Walter Camp Football Foundation.

Kancey becomes the first Pitt player to achieve unanimous All-American status since Aaron Donald did it in 2013. He joins a distinct list of some of the all-time Pitt greats to achieve the feat, such as Tony Dorsett, Larry Fitzgerald , Bill Fralic, Hugh Green, and more.

“This is just an incredible honor,” Kancey said in a press release. “I want to thank all of the All-America voters who deemed me worthy of this recognition. I am so grateful to my Pitt coaches and teammates, as well as our support staff. They help me get better every day, on and off the field. This is their honor as much as mine. I’m so blessed to call myself a Pitt Panther.”

The junior defensive tackle has already collected ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors and has been a finalist for prestigious individual awards such as the Outland and Bednarik trophies.

“I’m running out of superlatives to describe how I feel about Calijah,” said Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi. “He’s the best defensive tackle I’ve ever coached, period. He’s a first-team All-American as a player and, more importantly, as a person. These national accolades didn’t come about by accident. He’s definitely got them all deserved and we are so proud of him.

Kancey posted 31 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks in 11 games played this season. He missed the team’s regular season finale against Miami, and that same injury will keep him from playing in the Sun Bowl against UCLA on December 30.

Despite finishing the season with an injury, Kancey made his presence felt in three highly productive seasons as the Panther. He earned All-American freshman honors in 2020 and found greater success a season ago as a member of Pitt’s 2021 ACC Championship team.

Kancey posted 13 tackles for loss and seven sacks in 2021, earning first-team All-ACC and third-team All-American honors from the Associated Press. He has been on everyone’s radar this season and has continued to deliver week after week for Pitt. The Panthers finished the regular season leading the country in sacks, and Kancey’s presence at center was a big reason why.

Kancey saved his best for the 2022 season and leaves Pitt as one of the most outstanding defensive players in the school’s history. The Miami native has not yet signed up for the NFL, but it is believed he played his last game in a Pitt uniform.

Kancey’s presumed next step is to prepare for the 2023 NFL Draft. When he came out of high school, there were questions about his height, as he only got three stars.

He overcame those projections and had a successful college career. The same questions will be asked about Kancey entering the NFL, but given his college-level production, he won’t have to wait long to hear his name mentioned in the upcoming draft.

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