Pitt’s Calijah Kancey Named ACC Defensive Player of the Year

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A highly decorated week for Pitt’s Calijah Kancey continued today with the announcement that the junior defensive tackle has been named the 2022 ACC Defensive Player of the Year.

Kancey is the second Pitt player to win the ACC’s top defensive honor. Tackle Aaron Donald was the Panthers’ initial honoree in 2013.

Six total Panthers have won an ACC Player or Rookie of the Year award during Pitt’s 10 seasons in the conference. Last season, Pitt boasted the ACC’s overall and offensive Player of the Year in quarterback Kenny Pickett, now of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

This is the latest recognition for Kancey, who earlier this week was named first team All-ACC for the second consecutive year. He additionally was selected a finalist for the prestigious Outland Trophy, presented to the nation’s best interior lineman.

Kancey is also a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top defensive player. Pro Football Focus named him a first team All-American.

The 6-foot, 280-pound Kancey (Miami, Fla./Miami Northwestern) has been one of college football’s most dominant players regardless of position this season. He compiled 31 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks in 11 games played.

Kancey spearheads a Pitt defense that leads the country in sacks (3.75 avg.), ranks seventh nationally against the run (95.5 avg.) and ranks 19th in fewest total yards allowed (319.7 avg.).

Kancey is the first tackle to win ACC Defensive Player of the Year since Donald in 2013 and only the third all-time since the inaugural year of the award in 1993.

“I am extremely thankful and humbled to receive this incredible honor from the ACC,” Kancey said. “I share this award with all of my teammates and coaches. They make me better every day, on and off the field. I’m so proud to wear the Blue and Gold with them.”

“Calijah has been absolutely outstanding all season long and is highly deserving of this honor,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said. “As both a run stopper and rushing the passer, he has been tremendous. On behalf of our entire program, I want to congratulate Calijah on receiving this award. He has absolutely earned it.”

Pitt’s ALL-TIME ACC Major Award Winners

ACC Player of the Year

2014, James Conner, RB

2021, Kenny Pickett, QB

ACC Offensive Player of the Year

2014, James Conner, RB

2021, Kenny Pickett, QB

ACC Defensive Player of the Year

2013, Aaron Donald, DT

2022, Calijah Kancey, DT

ACC Rookie of the Year

2015, Jordan Whitehead, S; Qadree Ollison, RB (co-winners)

ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year

2015, Qadree Ollison, RB

ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year

2015, Jordan Whitehead, S

ACC Brian Piccolo Award (Most Courageous Player)

2016, James Conner, RB

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