Pitt defensive lineman Calijah Kancey was placed on the Pro Football Focus Team of the Week on Monday after a solid showing against UMass in Pitt’s season opener. The Panthers would soundly defeat the Minutemen 51-7 in the game, and Kancey would end up with one of the five sacks Pitt recorded.
All told, Kancey had five total tackles, including one tackle for a loss and one sack. On paper, that was arguably the second-best game posted by any defender on the team, with Pitt linebacker John Petrishen — who had six total tackles, including two tackles for losses and two sacks — being the only one to fare better.
With that said, Kancey displayed some explosive playmaking ability in the game, as he plowed through UMass lineman Joe Horn, who checks in at 6’2” and 310 pounds, like he wasn’t even there en route to UMass quarterback Tyler Lytle for his lone sack.
In 2020, Kancey had 27 tackles, including seven tackles for losses and 1.5 sacks, as a redshirt freshman. And for his efforts, he was named a freshman All-American by the Athletic, the FWAA and Rivals.
Given the sheer athleticism the 6’0”, 275-pound lineman out of Miami has displayed as an underclassman as well as the faith Pat Narduzzi and the Pitt coaching staff have shown in him by starting him in each of Pitt’s last six games, 2021 could be a big year for Kancey as he works to establish himself as a key contributor on Pitt’s line. And if he succeeds, the accolades from PFF could be the first of many to come this season.