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Damar Hamlin accepts invitation to Senior Bowl

The homegrown defensive back led Pitt in tackles in two of the last three years

Pittsburgh v Syracuse Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Pitt safety Damar Hamlin has accepted an invitation to the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl, according to an announcement from the event’s organizers. The 6’1”, 195-pound safety is considered a potential mid-round draft pick by analysts at Walter Football but has not generated as much buzz as teammates Paris Ford, Patrick Jones II and Jaylen Twyman. Of course, with a good performance at the Senior Bowl, he could improve his standing.

The news of Hamlin’s decision to play in the Senior Bowl broke on Friday morning. The previous day, Hamlin was one of two players who chose to sit out for Pitt’s regular-season finale. The other was star defensive end Rashad Weaver, who was said to have signed with an agent and shifted his focus to NFL draft preparations earlier in the week. Neither of the absences hindered the Panthers, though, as Pitt defeated Georgia Tech 34-20 and Hamlin’s replacement, Erick Hallett, came up with an interception in the first quarter. Hamlin and Weaver will both play in the Senior Bowl.

Hamlin has been one of Pitt’s top defensive backs since 2018, when he led the team with 90 tackles and two interceptions. The following year, he came up with 84 tackles, 10 pass breakups and one pick, and while none of those marks were team-highs, Hamlin paired well with Ford and formed one of the top safety tandems in the nation. That duo was intact for much of the 2020 season, but Ford opted out of the final four games. As a result, Hamlin led Pitt in tackles once more, with 67, and he came up with two picks and nine pass breakups in his final year in Pittsburgh.

The Senior Bowl is set to take place at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, on Jan. 30. The game will kick off at 2:30 ET and air on the NFL Network.