Saskatchewan Roughriders retain Italian/Global DL Habakkuk Baldonado

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have announced that Italian/Global defensive lineman Habakkuk Baldonado has survived training camp and the preseason and been added to the practice roster.

In the two preseason games, Baldonado recorded three tackles including one tackle for loss and a quarterback sack.

The 6’5″, 260-pound Baldonado, who had spent five years playing for the University of Pittsburgh Panthers, signed with the Roughriders partway through the 2023 season after spending training camp and the preseason with the New York Giants. He had been signed by the Giants as an undrafted free agent following the 2023 NFL Draft. In the three preseason games with New York, the Italian defensive lineman tallied four tackles, a sack and a pass defended. Baldonado was the second-round selection of the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 2023 CFL Global Draft.

Baldonado was one of the few international prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft who also attended the NFL Combine in IndianapolisIndiana. The Italian stacked up well against other prospects clocking a 4.78 40-yard dash as well as a 35” vertical, 10” broad jump and 21 reps on the bench. Despite Baldonado’s showing at the 2023 NFL Combine with many expecting him to go on Day 3, he slipped out of the draft.

The 24-year-old spent five collegiate seasons (2018-2022) at Pittsburgh seeing action in 40 games. He recorded 99 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, two pass knockdowns, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and one punt block.  In the 2021 season, Baldonado led the Panthers with nine sacks and earned Second-Team All-ACC Honors.

Before joining the Panthers, Baldonado first played football with the Lazio Marines in his hometown of Rome. In 2017, Baldonado made his way to Florida’s high school football scene, joining Clearwater Academy International as an exchange student. In his lone season of high school football, Baldonado put up a staggering 30 sacks in only seven games. Baldonado’s size and skills earned him scholarship offers from blue-chip programs like Michigan StateNebraskaSyracuse, and his eventual home Pittsburgh.


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