James Conner’s journey through college


On May 5, 1995, James Earl Conner was born in Erie, PA. He committed to play college football at the University of Pittsburgh in August 2012.

2013 Season Highlights: As a freshman, Conner played in 12 of the 13 games in the season. His first game in college was the team’s opener against Florida State, where he had 34 yards and got the ball 8 times. The week after, Conner scored his first touchdown against  New Mexico and finished the game with a win.   He had  12 carries for 119 rushing yards and two touchdowns. On December 26, 2013, Conner had 26 carries for 226-yards and a touchdown during a victory over Bowling Green in the Little Caesar’s Bowl, 30-27. He was named the 2013 Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl MVP. He leads his team in rushing yards with a total of 799 for the season.

2014 Season Highlights: Conner started his sophomore season rushing for 153 yards and four touchdowns in the season opener against Delaware, winning 62-0.  The day of November 1, Conner rushed for 263 rushing yards. Conner rushed for 1,765 yards on 298 attempts to set the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) record with 26 rushing touchdowns. He was named the ACC Player of the Year.

2015 Season Highlights: In Conners junior year in college, he tore his  MCL during the season opener against Youngstown State. Conner was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma during rehab. When they were running tests it revealed that there were tumors in his head and chest. Sadly enough he was diagnosed on Thanksgiving. Conner said “When I heard those words — ‘You have cancer’ — I admit I was scared,” “But after thinking about it for a bit, I realized that fear is a choice. I choose to not fear cancer. I choose to fight it, and I will win.” Conner spent a couple of months trying to decide if he would return back to football or not.“One year ago today I was asking myself, ‘Why me?’ ” Conner said. “Why was I the lucky one to be getting the ACC Player of the Year award when I had so many teammates who deserved it as much as me? Now one year later, instead of asking, ‘Why me?’ I am saying, ‘Why not me?’ I can beat. Pat Narduzzi said he expects Conner to win the battle. On May 23, 2016, Conner announced on Twitter that he was cancer free.

2016 Season Highlights: Conner had 22 attempts for 117 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown in a 42–39 victory over Penn State. Conner had a season-high 24 carries for 111 rushing yards and a touchdown during a 38-45 loss to Oklahoma State on September 17, 2016. On October 27, 2016, he had 19 carries, a season-high 141 rushing yards and three touchdowns in a 36-39 loss to No. 25 Virginia Tech. On December 10, 2016, Conner announced on Twitter that he intends to apply for the 2017 NFL Draft as an underclassman and forgo his senior year at Pitt. Underclassmen had to apply for the draft by January 16, 2017.

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