Panthers placed on Bednarik and Lombardi watchlists


PITTSBURGH—As the Pitt Football Program opened its 2022 training camp on the South Side, three members of the team were recognized by prestigious national watchlists on Monday.

Junior defensive tackle Calijah Kancey added to his impressive list of pre-season award nominations by being named to the watch list for both Chuck Bednarik Award and the Rotary Lombardi Award. Senior defensive end Habacuc Baldonado was also recognized by the Bednarik and senior linebacker SirVocea Dennis joins Kancey on the Lombardi watch list.

The Bednarik Award is given annually to the top defensive player in college football, while the Lombardi Award is given to the nation’s top lineman or linebacker.

Kancey (Miami, Florida/Northwest Miami) is now a pre-season contender for six of the sport’s biggest awards. He established himself as one of the most productive defensive tackles in the nation last season, beating Pitt in tackles for loss (13) and ranking second in sacks (seven). He won first-team All-ACC and was awarded third-team All-American recognition by The Associated Press.

The 6-foot, 280-pound disruptive force helped the Panthers win their first all-time conference title in program history with several big plays in ACC games, including sacks against Virginia Tech, North Carolina North and Virginia. Kancey remarkably recorded an eight-game TFL for Pitt in the ACC Championship Game against Wake Forest and forced a fumble against Clemson.

Kancey Lombardi Watch List

Kancey’s combination of speed and power has drawn comparisons to another former standout defensive tackle from Pitt: three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donaldwho won both the Bednarik and the Lombardi after his outstanding senior season for the Panthers in 2013.

Like Kancey, Baldonado was named to the 2022 All-ACC Preseason Football Team and is now on the Bednarik Award watch list as a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.

Baldonado Bednarik Watchlist

baldonado (Rome, Italy/Clearwater Academy International (Florida)) returns for the Panthers as one of the most feared rushers in the nation after recording nine sacks last season.

The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Italian started all 14 games for the ACC champions in 2021 and compiled 11.5 tackles for loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery as well as earning second-round honors. All ACC team. Baldonado was at his best in the big moments, tying a career high with seven tackles and adding a sack in the ACC Championship game against Wake Forest; he also posted sacks against Virginia Tech, Clemson, Miami and North Carolina in crucial conference games.

Dennis Lombardi Watch List

Dennis (Syracuse, NY/Christian Brothers Academy/The Peddie School (NJ)) returns as the veteran leader of Pitt’s linebacking corps, with 145 career tackles and 24 career TFLs.

Able to play at all linebacker positions for the Panthers and accomplished as both a lightning rush thumper and highly capable cover man, Dennis has been named All-ACC in each of the past two seasons and also provides a valuable leadership to Pitt’s defensive unit.

Last season, Dennis was twice named ACC Linebacker of the Week and made some of the biggest plays of the season for the Panthers, returning an interception 50 yards for a touchdown against Clemson, posting three tackles for one. loss and a sack to North Carolina and had a career-high 12 tackles with two sacks in the ACC Championship game victory over Wake Forest.

Here is a complete list of Panthers who have been named to national watch lists ahead of the 2022 college football season:

Calijah KanceyJR*, DT, #8
Walter Camp Player of the Year (Top Player)
Chuck Bednarik Award (Best Defensive Player)
Bronko Nagurski Trophy (Best Defensive Player)
Outland Trophy (Best Interior Lineman)
Rotary Lombardi Award (Top Lineman or Linebacker)
Lott IMPACT Trophy (Most Impactful Defensive Player)

Israel AbanikandaJR, RB, #2
Paul Hornung Award (Most Versatile Player)

Deslin AlexanderSR+, DE, #5
Wuerffel Trophy (community service champion)

Habacuc BaldonadoSR*, DE, #87
Chuck Bednarik Award (Best Defensive Player)

Gavin BarthelemySO, TE, #86
John Mackey Award (Best Tight End)

SirVocea DennisSR, LB, #7
Rotary Lombardi Award (Top Lineman or Linebacker)

Brandon HillJR*, DB, #9
Jim Thorpe Award (Best Defensive Back)

Carter WarrenSR+, OT, #77
Outland Trophy (Best Interior Lineman)

Pat NarduzziThe head coach
Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year

Pitt opens the 2022 campaign with the highly anticipated renewal of the Backyard Brawl against West Virginia on September 1 at Acrisure Stadium. ESPN’s College GameDay will cover one of the marquee contests in the first full week of the season.

Tickets for Pitt’s football season, which start at just $180, are on sale now at For pricing, seating plans, subscriber benefits and more, click here or call (800) 643-7488.

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