Pitt Running Back to Play Final Collegiate Game at New Era Pinstripe Bowl
The ACC’s Head Coaches Selected Five Panthers as First Team All-ACC
Redshirt Junior Tailback Makes Triumphant Return, Outside Hitter Leads Pitt in California
James Conner caught one touchdown and ran for another in his return from a battle with cancer to lead Pittsburgh to a 28-7 win.
USATSI Gallery - Northwestern vs No. 23 Pittsburgh - Pinstripe Bowl
The Panthers defeat Syracuse, on November 26, 2016.
Photos from Pittsburgh @ Clemson on November 12, 2016.
Photos from Pittsburgh @ Miami on November 5, 2016.
Photos from Pittsburgh @ Virginia on October 22, 2016.
"The Ellen Degeneres Show" (4/21/16)
"NOTHING IS GUARANTEED"
On His Battle With Cancer...
James Conner, The Players' Tribune (7/25/16)
Conner has made a heroic journey back to the field after enduring a season-ending knee injury followed by a diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma...publicly announcing his cancer in December 2015, he vigorously participated in Pitt's winter workouts while undergoing chemotherapy...declared cancer free in May, Conner emphatically stated his goal was to be running the football again this fall...Conner made good on his promise: on Sept. 3, he ran onto the turf at Heinz Field as a starting running back and newly elected team captain 364 days after his knee injury and less than four months following his final chemotherapy treatment...Conner's inspirational return has been nothing short of spectacular…he was named first team All-ACC this season after rushing for 1,060 yards and 16 touchdowns on 208 carries (5.1 avg.)…Conner is also putting up the best receiving numbers of his career with 20 receptions for 299 yards (14.9 avg.) and four touchdowns…his 20 total TDs rank sixth nationally and his 120 points rank seventh in the country…he is the 2016 recipient of the Disney Sports Spirit Award presented annually to college football’s most inspirational figure…Conner has finished the regular season in a flurry, compiling four 100-yard games in the last five contests…he has five 100-yard games for the year and 17 for his career…running for two scores in Pitt's 56-14 win over Duke (Nov. 19), James Conner set ACC records for career rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns…he heads into the postseason with 52 rushing touchdowns and 56 total TDs for his career…in Pitt annals, he has emphatically established himself as one of the greatest backs in school history…in just 38 career games, Conner ranks second at Pitt in all-time rushing yards (3,701), total touchdowns and rushing TDs—trailing only the legendary Tony Dorsett in each of those categories…in his return game in the Villanova opener, Conner scored Pitt's first two touchdowns in a 28-7 win over Villanova...his three-yard rush in the second quarter opened the game's scoring and he later caught the first touchdown pass of his career, a nine-yarder, just before intermission...one week later, Conner was the workhorse in Pitt's 42-39 victory over historic rival Penn State...Conner rushed for 117 yards and scored two touchdowns against the Nittany Lions...he dove over the top for a one-yard score--and 35-21 Pitt lead--in the third quarter...his second TD ultimately provided the winning points...with Pitt clinging to a four-point advantage in the final period, Conner converted a third-and-goal at the 12 by taking a shovel pass into the end zone to give the Panthers a 42-31 lead...at Oklahoma State, he rushed for 111 yards and a TD, while adding 60 yards on two receptions...Conner resumed his role as a two-way terror in the Panthers' 45-31 victory at Virginia...on offense he rushed for a team-high 90 yards and two touchdowns, while adding a pair of receptions for 28 yards...but Conner also played three snaps on Pitt's last defensive series as a speed rusher and his pressure forced an errant throw by UVa's quarterback...facing the nation's No. 11 rushing defense in Virginia Tech (103.6 yards/game), Conner rumbled for 141 yards on 19 carries (7.4 avg.) and three touchdowns...he also took a shovel pass in for a 2-point conversion against the Hokies...facing No. 2 Clemson and a defense that was yielding less than 16 points per game, Conner ran roughshod through the Tigers for 132 yards on 20 carries (6.6 avg.)...his 20-yard touchdown run, featuring a highlight-reel stiff arm, pulled Pitt within 42-40 with 5:17 left, setting the stage for the 43-42 upset...Conner also had three catches for 57 yards (19.0 avg.) at Clemson, including a 46-yard catch-and-run TD...running for 101 yards and two scores in Pitt's 56-14 victory over Duke, Conner set ACC records for career rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns...he punctuated the regular season by rushing for 115 yards and two TDs on 19 carries (6.1 avg.) and adding two catches for 45 yards (with a 35-yard scoring reception) against Syracuse.
2015: Entered the season owning status as one of college football's biggest stars following an accomplished sophomore year...unfortunately, Conner's junior year was limited to just one half of play as he sustained a season-ending right knee injury (MCL) in the opener against Youngstown State...received a medical redshirt...in less than two full quarters of action against YSU, rushed for 77 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries (9.6 avg.) and also had a seven-yard reception...named to the prestigious Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, which honors 22 football student-athletes who have made a positive impact on others and their communities.
2014: Conner established himself as one of the country's elite offensive players with a decorated and prolific sophomore season...was named a first team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA)...became Pitt's first running back to garner first-team All-America honors in 27 years, dating back to Craig "Ironhead" Heyward in 1987...Conner was also a second-team All-America pick by the Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), Phil Steele, Sporting News, Walter Camp Football Foundation and USA TODAY...selected the ACC Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year by the league's media and coaches...rushed for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns on 298 carries (5.9 avg.)...ranked third nationally in rushing touchdowns, fourth in scoring (12.0 ppg.), sixth in rushing yards per game (135.8 avg.) and seventh in total rushing yards...led the ACC in each of those four categories...set Pitt single-season records for rushing TDs, total TDs (26) and points (156)...Conner surpassed the legendary Tony Dorsett to achieve each of the three marks...Dorsett held those Pitt records for 38 years, compiling 140 points on 23 touchdowns (22 by rush) during his 1976 Heisman Trophy season...Conner's 26 rushing touchdowns also set an ACC record, surpassing Ryan Williams' (Virginia Tech) mark of 21 set in 2009...Conner's 1,765 rushing yards rank third in ACC history and fourth in Pitt annals...achieved his impressive rushing totals despite being hindered by a hip injury in his final two regular-season games (Nov. 22 vs. Syracuse and Nov. 29 vs. Miami)...Conner played less than two quarters against the Orange after getting injured in the first half...twice was named the Maxwell Award National Player of the Week following his performances against Boston College (Sept. 5) and Duke (Nov. 1)...Conner bulled through Boston College for 214 yards and a touchdown on 36 carries (5.9 avg.) in a 30-20 victory...all-time Pitt great Mark May awarded Conner an ESPN Helmet Sticker for his BC performance...against Duke, he rushed for a career-high 263 yards and three touchdowns on 38 carries (6.9 avg.)...was a three-time ACC Offensive Back of the Week honoree (Boston College, Duke and Delaware)...his performance in the season-opening 62-0 win over Delaware was an early indicator of his sensational sophomore season as he rushed for 153 yards and a career-high four touchdowns on just 14 carries (10.9 avg.)...Conner also rushed for four TDs at North Carolina and netted 220 yards on 30 carries (7.3 avg.) against the Tar Heels.
* Left the Syracuse game in the second quarter due to injury.2013: Played in 12 games, missing the Oct. 19 Old Dominion contest (shoulder)...led Pitt in rushing yards (799) and rushing touchdowns (eight)...averaged 5.5 yards on 146 carries...became the first true freshman to lead Pitt in rushing yards and rushing TDs since Dion Lewis in 2009...named MVP of the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl after rushing for 229 yards and a TD (15-yard run) on 26 carries (8.8 avg.), sparking the Panthers to a 30-27 win over Bowling Green...Conner's 229 yards set a Pitt bowl rushing record, eclipsing Tony Dorsett's 202 yards vs. Georgia in the 1977 Sugar Bowl...in addition to running back, also contributed as a pass rushing specialist vs. Bowling Green, drawing a key holding call on the Falcons' final possession...named to the SI.com All-Bowl Team and the ESPN.com ACC All-Bowl Team...totaled four 100-yard rushing games on the year...netted 173 yards on 26 carries (6.7 avg.) with a three-yard TD in Pitt's 58-55 win at Duke...rushed for 119 yards on 12 carries (9.9 avg.) with two TDs (1 and 38 yards) in a 49-27 win over New Mexico...had 102 yards on 19 carries (5.4 avg.) with a two-yard TD vs. North Carolina...bulldozed for two TDs in a 28-21 win over Notre Dame...his two-yard TD in the third quarter tied the game, 14-14, while his one-yard plunge in the fourth quarter provided the winning points in the Panthers' upset of the No. 24 Fighting Irish.
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HIGH SCHOOL: Highly productive runner and pass rusher at McDowell, earning accolades for both roles...selected All-State Class AAAA by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers as a senior running back...named Pennsylvania Football News All-Class AAAA at running back his senior year and as a defensive lineman his junior year...Erie Times-News All-District 10...led McDowell to the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs as a senior after rushing for 1,680 yards and 21 touchdowns on 155 carries, an impressive average of 10.8 yards per rush...set a McDowell single-season record with 164 points, including 26 touchdowns (tied for the most in school history), three 2-point conversions and a safety...also set school records for sacks in a season (12) and career (17)...selected to play in the Chesapeake Bowl, a senior all-star game featuring players from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia...Conner averaged 7.1 yards per rush in the Chesapeake Bowl (71 yards on 10 carries) and scored a five-yard TD to help the North to a 38-13 win over the South...rated the No. 13 prospect in Pennsylvania and the nation's No. 26 weakside defensive end by Rivals...rated one of the top 40 prospects in Pennsylvania by Scout...played under Coach Mark Soboleski.
PERSONAL: James Earl Conner, born 5/5/95, is the son of Kelly Patterson and Glen Conner...has four brothers...in June, was presented with the inaugural "James Conner Courage Award" by Stanley M. Marks, MD, who was James' oncologist and serves as chairman of the UPMC CancerCenter... Conner was honored by the National Kidney Foundation in March 2015 with the "Small Hands Big Heart" Award for his volunteer work with the organization...administration of justice major.
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