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 Draft Scout College Football Player News: Pittsburgh
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  SEPT 26 ACC RUNNING BACK OF THE WEEK: Israel Abanikanda, Pitt, RB, Brooklyn, N.Y.,...Named ACC Running Back of the Week for the second time this season ... Posted his third consecutive 100-yard rushing effort with another prolific outing in the Panthers' 45-24 win over Rhode Island ... Rushed for a career-high 177 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries—an impressive 9.3-yard average ... Touchdown runs covered 67, 12, 24 and 13 yards ... First Pitt player to compile three consecutive 100-yard games since All-ACC performer Darrin Hall in 2017 and first Panther to rush for four TDs in a game since Hall against North Carolina on Nov. 9, 2017. - ACC Football

Jr/2024 RB Israel AbanikandaPittsburgh
News Source: ACC Football
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  Tailback Israel Abanikanda rushed for four touchdowns and quarterback Kedon Slovis was solid in his returned from injury as No. 24 Pittsburgh beat Rhode Island 45-24 on Saturday. The Panthers (3-1) rushed for 272 yards and scored at least 30 points for the ninth time in 11 games, and Slovis had plenty of help on the ground from Abanikanda, who had 19 carries for 177 yards. The four touchdowns tied for second-most in program history. It marked the first time a Pitt running back rushed for that many TDs in a game since Darrin Hall against North Carolina on November 2017. Slovis started after missing last week's win at Western Michigan with an undisclosed injury. He was an efficient 20 of 27 for 189 yards. A USC transfer, he hadn't played since the first half of an overtime loss against Tennessee two weeks ago. Marquis DeShields scored a pair of touchdowns for Rhode Island (2-2), the alma mater of Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi. The Rams, playing their first-ever game against a ranked FBS opponent, trailed by 10 points at halftime before Pitt pulled away after the break.

The Panthers took a 7-0 lead the first time they touched the ball on M.J. Devonshire's 82-yard punt return for a touchdown. On Pitt's second possession, Abanikanda ran untouched up the middle for a 67-yard touchdown. It was his second rushing touchdown of 60 yards or more this season. DeShields answered less than a minute later for Rhode Island with a 63-yard touchdown. Abanikanda scored his second touchdown on Pitt's next possession, a 12-yard run to make it a 21-7 game. Slovis ran for a first down and the Panthers converted a fourth down during the 16-play, 82-yard drive that spanned nearly eight minutes. Pitt added a 31-yard field goal and DeShields scored his second touchdown in the final minute of the first half. Abanikanda scored again on Pitt's opening drive of the second half, capping a 10-play, 75-yard drive with a 24-yard run. - Pittsburgh/AP College Football


Jr/2024 RB Israel AbanikandaPittsburgh
News Source: Pittsburgh/AP College Football
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  SEPT 19 ACC ROOKIE OF THE WEEK: Nate Yarnell, Pitt, QB, Austin, Texas,...Making both his first career start and inaugural collegiate appearance, Yarnell helped direct Pitt to a 34-13 road win at Western Michigan...Threw for 179 yards and a touchdown on 9-of-12 passing (75%) filling in for ailing starter Kedon Slovis...Prior to his debut at Western Michigan, Yarnell had not played in a game since his junior year in high school (2019) due to an injury his senior year. - ACC Football

rFr/2026 QB Nate YarnellPittsburgh
News Source: ACC Football
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  Pitt junior running back Israel Abanikanda carried the ball 31 times for 131 yards and a touchdown to lead the No. 23 Panthers to a 34-13 victory over Western Michigan on Saturday. Pitt (2-1) was without its top two quarterbacks for the nonconference contest, but third-string signal caller Nate Yarnell was efficient under center, going 9-for-12 passing for 179 yards and a touchdown. Western Michigan (1-2) had its opportunities, with a 31-yard double pass from receiver Anthony Sambucci to receiver A.J. Abbott for a touchdown that cut Pitt's lead to 20-13 heading into the fourth quarter. Pitt responded on its next drive when Yarnell found sophomore receiver Konata Mumpfield for a 6-yard touchdown reception to give the Panthers a two-score cushion. Redshirt junior running back Daniel Carter would ice the game with 3:03 to play in the fourth quarter when he plunged in for a 4-yard touchdown run. - Pitt/AP College Football

Jr/2024 RB Israel AbanikandaPittsburgh
News Source: Pitt/AP College Football
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  No one expected the metamorphosis of Pitt's passing game to be clean and efficient through only two games. After all, coach Pat Narduzzi replaced his top quarterback, wide receiver and playcaller - all in one offseason. Throw in injuries last Saturday to quarterbacks Kedon Slovis and Nick Patti, and perhaps it makes sense Pitt (1-1) struggled to score enough points, especially in the red zone, during the overtime loss to Tennessee. Pitt managed one touchdown in five trips inside the 20-yard line. That doesn't include a play that started at the 21 on which a Slovis pass into the end zone bounced off wide receiver Bub Means' hands and into those of Tennessee safety Trevon Flowers. - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Sr/2023 QB Kedon SlovisPittsburgh
News Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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  Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi is taking blame for play that injured quarterback Kedon Slovis. There were only 21 seconds left in the first half Saturday when Kedon Slovis dropped back to pass from his 37, but it was enough time for a flood of events to occur that could impact Pitt beyond the loss to Tennessee. Sack, fumble, injury to Slovis, Tennessee recovery, field goal and a 24-17 halftime deficit for the Panthers, instead of 21-17. That's six results that didn't have to happen, but ended up negatively impacting Pitt's chance of winning a game that went into overtime. Narduzzi referred to the field goal as a "freebie." Asked why he didn't order Slovis to safely take a knee and run out the clock, Narduzzi was honest in the assessment of his decision. "I'm a (dummy), Jerry, yes. Thank you," he told the Tribune-Review. "Yeah. There's no doubt about it. "You go back and look, that's the one...That's why we kneeled down in the fourth quarter and take it to overtime. We weren't going to take any chances (at the end of the game) and make something crazy happen like that happened (in the first half). - Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Sr/2023 QB Kedon SlovisPittsburgh
News Source: Pittsburgh Tribune Review
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  TRACKING TOP DRAFT PROSPECTS - WEEK 2: 46. Carter Warren, rSr, OT, Pittsburgh, 6-5, 325, 2,...In a second consecutive wild game, Pitt lost to Tennessee, 34-27, in overtime. Pitt collected 415 total yards, 273 in the air, but quarterback Kedon Slovis was battered in the game and left after a strip sack. He appeared to hit his head and shoulder on the ground. After five sacks in the opener, somebody up front isn't doing the job. We'll check the video.

Previous week, No. 45: Pitt rallied to win the season-opening Backyard Brawl against West Virginia, 38-31, before a crowd of 77,622, largest ever for a sporting event in sports-crazy Pittsburgh. This was a game that had to be seen to be believed. So watch for a replay. Meantime, Warren did well in this wide open game as Pitt gained 384 total yards, 308 passing by one time Southern Cal quarterback Kedon Slovis, despite being sacked five times. - Frank Cooney/NFL Draft Scout


rSr/2023 OT Carter WarrenPittsburgh
News Source: Frank Cooney/NFL Draft Scout
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  SEPT 12 ACC RUNNING BACK OF THE WEEK: Israel Abanikanda, Pitt, RB, Brooklyn, N.Y.,...Rushed for a career-high 154 yards with a touchdown on 25 carries (6.2 avg.) against No. 24 Tennessee...Added a 21-yard reception to finish with 175 scrimmage yards...Gave Pitt a 10-0 first-quarter lead with a 76-yard touchdown run, the Panthers' longest rush since Nov. 10, 2018, when Qadree Ollison had a school-record 97-yard run (TD) against Virginia Tech. - ACC Football

Jr/2024 RB Israel AbanikandaPittsburgh
News Source: ACC Football
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  SEPT 6 ACC DEFENSIVE BACK OF THE WEEK: M.J. Devonshire, Pitt, CB, Aliquippa, Pa.,...Produced the winning points in Pitt's 38-31 victory over West Virginia by returning an interception 56 yards for a touchdown with 2:58 left in the game...Second collegiate interception and the first returned for a touchdown...Also broke up two passes. - ACC Football

rJr/2024 CB M.J. DevonshirePittsburgh
News Source: ACC Football
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  TRACKING TOP DRAFT PROSPECTS - WEEK 1: 45. Carter Warren, rSr, OT, Pittsburgh, 6-5, 325,...Pitt rallied to win the season-opening Backyard Brawl against West Virginia, 38-31, before a crowd of 77,622, largest ever for a sporting event in sports-crazy Pittsburgh. This was a game that had to be seen to be believed. So watch for a replay. Meantime, Warren did well in this wide open game as Pitt gained 384 total yards, 308 passing by one time Southern Cal quarterback Kedon Slovis, despite being sacked five times. After the game, Pitt coach ripped ESPN for saying 75 percent of the fans were pulling for West Virginia. On TV, the crowd seemed split. - Frank Cooney/NFL Draft Scout

rSr/2023 OT Carter WarrenPittsburgh
News Source: Frank Cooney/NFL Draft Scout
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  MJ Devonshire returned a tipped pass 56 yards for a touchdown with 2:58 remaining and No. 17 Pittsburgh beat West Virginia 38-31 on Thursday night in the return of the Backyard Brawl. The Panthers edged their rivals for the first time since 2008 after a pass by West Virginia's JT Daniels smacked off the hands of Bryce Ford-Wheaton and into the hands of Devonshire, who weaved his way through traffic to give Pitt its second touchdown in 43 seconds to turn a seven-point deficit into a lead it wouldn't relinquish. The Mountaineers drove deep into Pitt territory in the final minute and Daniels hit Reese Smith on a fourth-down fling that appeared to bring the ball to the Pitt 1. Briefly anyway. Replays showed the ball skimmed the turf before Smith could bring it in and the crowd of 70,622 - the largest to attend a sporting event in the city's history - erupted.

Southern California transfer Kedon Slovis threw for 308 yards and a touchdown in his debut with the Panthers in the opener for both teams. Rodney Hammond ran for 74 yards and two touchdowns before leaving in the fourth quarter because of a right leg injury that appeared serious. Daniels, looking to revive his career following stints at USC and Georgia, completed 24 of 40 passes for 241 yards with two touchdowns to Ford-Wheaton and the pick that Devonshire turned into Pitt's first victory over its longtime rivals since 2008. - AP College Football


rJr/2024 CB M.J. DevonshirePittsburgh
News Source: AP College Football
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  ESPN TOP 100 PRESEASON 2022 CFB PLAYERS (Selected Aug. 17): No. 83. Habakkuk Baldonado, DE, Pitt, Senior. Notable 2021 stat: 41 tackles (25 solo), 9 sacks. Last year's ranking: NR. Coach Pat Narduzzi has recruited and developed strong defensive linemen at Pitt - Baldonado is no exception. Last season, Baldonado had 42 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks (that ranked No. 3 in the ACC). Now consider that Baldonado only played one year of high school football in the United States, moving to Florida in 2017 after playing three years in his native Italy. That makes his rapid development more impressive. - ESPN.com

rSr/2023 DE Habakkuk BaldonadoPittsburgh
News Source: ESPN.com
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  Kedon Slovis didn't transfer from USC to Pitt planning to sit on the bench. He won't. Head coach Pat Narduzzi named Slovis the starting quarterback on Wednesday, ending a months-long competition with Nick Patti for the right to replace Kenny Pickett, who is working next door with the Pittsburgh Steelers after a remarkable final season with the Panthers last fall. Narduzzi praised the way both Patti and Slovis approached their extended job interviews but called Slovis' accuracy the separator. "He's a really, really good passer," Narduzzi said. "We think he can lead us." Slovis, who threw for 58 touchdowns against 24 interceptions in three seasons with the Trojans before leaving last winter, won't get a chance to ease into the gig.

The 17th-ranked Panthers, who won the program's first ACC title in 2021, open at home against West Virginia in the renewal of the "Backyard Brawl" on Sept. 1. It will hardly be Slovis' first go-round in the crucible of a rivalry. He went 2-0 against UCLA and played well in losses to Notre Dame in 2019 and 2020. "I love playing in big games," he said. "I think every player loves playing in big games. You know, from your high school rival to college, I think everyone's favorite games are rivalry games. So yeah, you know, obviously you feel prepared, but more so I just feel excited." - AP College Football


Sr/2023 QB Kedon SlovisPittsburgh
News Source: AP College Football
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  When Erick Hallett II finally decides he has taken this football thing as far as it can go - whether that's five, 10 or 15 years from now - Pitt's senior free safety said he hopes to go to law school in his native Texas. Already holding a bachelor's degree in philosophy and political science (and pursuing another in media and professional communications), Hallett has the confident look of someone who might be comfortable in front of a jury. Some day. Those grand plans of a lifetime must be set aside over the next several months while he concludes his Pitt career.

Asked what type of law he might like to practice, he doesn't even want to think about it. "I can't get into all that. I have to focus on football right now," he said. Safeties coach Cory Sanders said he sees that focus every day. "When he steps foot on this field, you can tell it's football," Sanders said. "He's not bringing any other baggage, anything else from the outside." Not an easy task for young people these days. "It's tough in general for kids today," Sanders said. "There are a lot of distractions in their ears, things going on off the field and social media. We have a lot of guys with the right mindset. "If you come up here as we close (practice), you're going to see over half the team going back to watch film. That says a lot about the team in general and their maturity and where they want to go." So focused on trying to replicate - or improve upon - Pitt's 11-3 record from a year ago, Hallett said he's trying not to relive the past. - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


rSr/2023 FS Erick Hallett IIPittsburgh
News Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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  Last week, Pitt earned its best preseason ranking in the USA Today coaches poll since 2010. Now the Associated Press poll has followed suit with its own glowing early appraisal of coach Pat Narduzzi's squad. The Panthers will start the season at No. 17 in the poll. That's down slightly from their high of No. 13 in at the end of last season. But it's still easily their best starting position in more than a decade. Pitt was No. 15 in the preseason poll back in 2010. No. 17 is also the program's highest appearance in the poll in any season other than 2021 since 2010. The Panthers peaked at No. 21 for a spell in 2020 before falling out of the rankings by season's end. Pitt is fourth among ACC teams in the poll, slotting in behind Clemson (No. 4), N.C. State (No. 13) and Coastal division rival Miami (No. 16.) Wake Forest is the other conference team in the rankings at No. 22. - Pittsburgh Post Gazette

rSr/2023 DE Habakkuk BaldonadoPittsburgh
News Source: Pittsburgh Post Gazette
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