We may be midway through the 2022 college football schedule, but today is awards season for three members of the Pitt Panthers. Pro Football Focus, CBS, The Athletic, and ESPN came out with their mid-season All-Americans today and three Panthers in total were honored. with Israel Abanikanda, Erick Hallett II, and Calijah Kancey all making the cut.
Abanikanda’s PFF honorable mention seems like another step towards an All-ACC first-team type of season, as the accolades just keep racking up for the junior class running back from Brooklyn. His stats have been mind-blowing so far, leading the country in all-purpose yards (186.17 yards per game) as well as touchdowns (13). Among ACC competition Abanikanda leads the pack in nearly every category, and with three ACC running back of the week awards under his belt, a strong second half could propel Abanikanda to not only first-team all-ACC but perhaps ACC player of the year. Izzy to the Hizzy has become a national sensation, and the rightful heir to Kenny Pickett’s throne as Pitt’s most valuable offensive player.
Erick Hallett II’s second-team nomination came in the Flex-D spot, finishing only behind Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon. The cornerback was also a first-team selection with The Athletic. Hallett II has been lockdown in coverage this year, currently tied for first in the ACC with three interceptions, two of which came in one game against Western Michigan. Hallett II’s 228 snaps played in coverage without allowing a touchdown are third in the nation, per PFF. Hallett II also has two fumble recoveries on the season, cementing the former ACC Championship game MVP as a nightmare matchup for opposing offenses.
In Calijah Kancey’s case, when you are averaging over one tackle-for-loss per game, you must be doing something right. Kancey was the only Pitt Panther that was universally recognized through all different platforms. Kancey is no surprise to be on this list either, coming off of his third-team all-American campaign last season. ESPN made sure to highlight Kancey’s high level of play.
A dominant pass-rusher on the interior, Kancey had 3.5 tackles for loss and a sack against Georgia Tech and heads into the second half of the season with a total of 8.5 tackles for loss and three sacks while generating six quarterback hurries. The 6-foot, 280-pound Kancey has also freed up other teammates to make plays because he’s constantly facing double teams and crushing the pocket.
The Pittsburgh Panthers will continue to rely on these players as they try to make a push toward winning the ACC Coastal.