Kancey joins elite named ACC Defensive Player of the Year

Who else won the award, plus Israel Abanikanda finished runner-up
Israel Abanikanda and Calijah Kancey
Photo credit Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – Calijah Kancey came into the season with a lot of expectations and attention from opposing coaches. It exceeded those predictions in 2022 and did something only Aaron Donald has done before him.

Kancey named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year with only Donald named that previously. He joins some elite company of previous winners including Bradley Chubb, Vic Beasley, Luke Kuechly, Derrick Brooks and more. Like Donald, he’s one of only three to win the award as a tackle.

The 6’ senior finished with a near ACC high 14.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks in 11 games. He is a finalist for the Outland Trophy and Bronko Nagurski Award.

"I am extremely thankful and humbled to receive this incredible honor from the ACC," Kancey said in a statement released by the university. "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 in a statement released by Pitt. "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."

Previous ACC Players of the Year-Kenny Pickett (Overall, Offensive), James Conner (Overall, Offensive, Most Courageous), Jordan Whitehead (Defensive Rookie, Overall Rookie), Qadree Ollison (Offensive Rookie) and Donald.

Near Winner

The Panthers had the best defensive player and second-best offensive player in the ACC this year. Conference rushing champion Israel Abanikanda finished second to North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye as the ACC Offensive Player of the Year and the overall ACC Player of the Year.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports