2023 NFL Draft
Pitt RB Israel Abanikanda Blazes Pitt Pro Day With Stunning 40-Yard Dash
PITTSBURGH — When scouts came to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex for Pitt pro day on Wednesday, one of the talks of the town was star Pitt running back Israel Abanikanda due to his reported testing numbers.
But not only did Abanikanda awe and shock everyone in attendance with some of the numbers he registered, but he also created a full-on new hype train for himself in doing so. At 5-foot-10, 217 pounds, Abanikanda set the trail ablaze by running what scouts timed as a 40-yard somewhere in the low 4.3s. Abanikanda himself said he heard somewhere between 4.26-4.32. Whatever the time was, it was fast. Really fast.
So, the numbers on the day for Abanikanda ended up being stunning from a 40-yard dash perspective. However, it was also great from an explosive testing perspective. Abanikanda hopped 41 inches in the vertical jump, which would have ranked at the top of all running backs at the NFL Combine. Then, he posted a 10-foot-8-inch board jump, giving him an elite score for the explosion drills at his size.
“Some people came out here still doubting my breakaway speed,” Abanikanda said. “I don’t know. I actually was surprised when they talked about that. So I was just like I’ll show out on my 40 and let them know.”
Regardless, now Abanikanda has had interest from over 20 teams in the NFL after the performance. Scouts raved to him about his performance and it seems the buzz is growing. One of the teams includes the team next door, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Running back coach Eddie Faulkner was on-hand to check out Abanikanda. They scheduled a formal with him at the NFL Combine, but it never came to fruition because of time constraints.
“The Pittsburgh Steelers, yessir, they are a team showing interest,” Abanikanda. “I had a formal scheduled with them at the Combine, but time got us and everything. But it would be great to play here.”
Regardless of where he goes, Abanikanda saw his stock and hype shoot up in the public sphere. He broke Tony Dorsett’s single-game rushing record against Virginia Tech in the 2022 season and ended up being the ACC’s leading rusher on the season and leading the entire conference in rushing touchdowns.
A track star, it is little surprise that Abanikanda lit it up on the athletic events. Now, he will wait in Brooklyn on draft night to see where he will land in the 2023 NFL Draft.