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


Patrick Cavanagh | Staff Photographer

UNC defensive back Cam’Ron Kelly (9) and Pitt redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Calijah Kancey (8) collide during Thursday’s football game vs. UNC.

By Dalton Coppola, Sports Editor

While the Panthers aren’t participating in the ACC Championship game this weekend, they’re still adding some hardware to their trophy case this week.

The ACC awards committee voted Pitt’s junior defensive tackle Calijah Kancey as the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. Kancey is the second Panther to ever bring home the award since Pitt started competing in the ACC in the 2013-14 season. The only other Panther to earn the award is Aaron Donald — now Super Bowl champion and highest paid interior lineman in the NFL — who won the award in 2013.

Kancey expressed his gratitude for the award and said he is grateful for his coaches and teammates for putting him in a position to flourish.

“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.”

Head coach Pat Narduzzi said he is beyond proud of Kancey and affirms that he earned this award.

“Calijah has been absolutely outstanding all season long and is highly deserving of this honor,” 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.” 

Kancey boasts an all-around statline, picking up 31 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks in 11 games played. The junior is still in the running for the Bronco Nagurski Award — an award granted to the top defensive player in the nation.

NFL Draft analysts project an NFL team to select Kancey in the first round of the 2023 Draft. He has not yet announced if he will participate in Pitt’s bowl game later this month.