Redshirt sophomore; 6’0″ 275 pounds; Miami, Fla.
It’s no secret the Pittsburgh Panthers’ defense has a knack for rushing the passer and making plays in the backfield. That’s been Pat Narduzzi’s calling card for a while now, and Tennessee football’s new offense will have to handle that.
More from All for Tennessee
- How to Win a GUARANTEED $200 Bonus Betting Just $5 on the Vols vs. Florida!
- Tennessee Football at Florida: Five Keys to a Vols Victory
- Week 3 SEC Power Rankings: Did Tennessee Football’s Win Help At All?
- Week 3 AP Polls: Why Did Tennessee Football Drop in the Polls?
- Tennessee Football: Top Five Performers in 30-13 Win vs. Austin Peay
However, while we’ve listed multiple linebackers from Pitt on here and even named a couple of others in passing, the key to it all is a great push up front. Pitt has that with its most important defender, Calijahn Kancey, who can play on the inside or the outside of the defensive line and give the entire Vols’ offensive line fits.
The graduate of Miami Northwestern Senior High School in Miami-Dade County is another Pro Football Focus first team All-ACC player. According to that website, he’s one of only three Power Five players last year who ranked in the top 10 in both run defense and pass rush grades last year.
For the season, Kancey came away with seven tackles for a loss, one and a half sacks, two pass deflections and 27 tackles, 12 of which were solo. However, as we have already mentioned, his stats don’t tell the story. He is in there to command attention and blow up the offensive line, freeing up all the other playmakers to rack up stats.
One note from PFF is that Kancey struggled against more high-profile linemen last year. That’s another factor that makes him No. 1 on this list. Tennessee football has some elite blockers, and Kancey will be a great early test as to where they stand. How they handle him will define the game, which will also define the season and define the blockers themselves.