Football runs in Israel Abanikanda's family. His father played football and so did his brother. So, it's no surprise that he won the New York Gatorade player of the year while playing both offense and defense. He received offers from multiple schools, but chose Pittsburgh. Abanikanda was a highly rated recruit and played in 6 games as a freshman. 2021 was Abanikanda's breakout year. He put up 651 yards on the ground along with 7 touchdowns. He also caught 24 passes for 197 yards and 1 touchdown. His senior season he took a step forward with a drop in quality at QB and his pass heavy OC leaving for Nebraska. Abanikanda went on to amass 1,431 rushing yards and another 146 through the air.