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Jets Select RB Israel Abanikanda in Round 5

Green & White Take Third Consecutive Offensive Player, Second Pitt Panther on Day 3 of the NFL Draft


With the 143rd pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the New York Jets selected Pittsburgh RB Israel Abanikanda in the fifth round (No. 143 overall). Born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn, Abanikanda, a college teammate of Jets' fourth-round pick Carter Warren, won't play professionally far from where his family now resides in East Flatbush/Brownsville.

"It's actually a dream come true," Abanikanda told reporters. "I always wanted to stay close to home and stay close to family. And just for that happening, it's an unreal experience."

In 11 games last season, Abanikanda rushed for 1,431 yards and 20 TDs while averaging 6 yds/carry. He led the NCAA in scoring (11.6 pts/g) with 21 total TDs and ranked second in all-purpose yards (164.09) and seventh in rush yards per game (130.1). His nine 100-yard rush games were the most by a Pitt player since Dion Lewis had 1o in 2009.

"They are getting a running back who can break tackles," Abanikanda. "I can run in any type of scheme, outside zone, inside zone, under the center. I also can line up at slot and catch the ball and break away. A home-run runner with great ball security as well."

In 30 career games at Pitt, Abanikanda (5-11, 215) amassed 2,161 ground yards and 28 TDs in addition to 38 receptions. Abanikanda will give the Jets another explosive option out of the backfield as he posted a sub 4.4 time in the 40-yard dash along with a 41-inch vertical at Pittsburgh's pro day.

"When I see green, I know I'm going to score," he said.

As a senior at Abraham Lincoln HS in New York, Abanikanda rushed for 1,350 yards and totaled 166 points on his way to being named New York's Gatorade Player of the Year. Also A track star, he was a two-time 100-meter Gold Medalist at the New York City Mayor's Cup Race.

"My older brother started playing football in little league and then I started playing football at 4-years-old," he said. "Me and him wanted to be different than everybody else in New York City. Everybody was basketball players with names so high. We wanted to be different and have our names so high in football."

After taking Edge Will McDonald (Rd 1, No. 15 overall) and C Joe Tippman (Rd 2, No. 43 overall) on Thursday and Friday, the Jets started their drafting on Day 3 with the selection of Panthers T Carter Warren (Rd 4, No. 120).

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