PITTSBURGH—James Conner is staying in the Steel City.
The Steelers made certain of that by selecting Pitt's record-breaking running back in the third round of the NFL Draft on Friday evening.
In his phone call to Conner, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin told him, "We are excited about you being a Steeler and chasing the World Championship in 2017. You're going to be a big part of that."
"It's a dream come true," said Conner. "I'm forever grateful to them for giving me the opportunity after everything I've been through. I know a lot of teams were scared, but they gave me the opportunity of a lifetime, and they are going to get a great person and a great football player, and I'll give it my all for them."
It was yet another surreal chapter in what has been an incredible journey for the Erie native.
Conner heroically overcame both a knee injury and Hodgkin lymphoma to return to the field in 2016. He was nothing short of spectacular in his final collegiate season, earning first team All-ACC after rushing for 1,092 yards and scoring 20 touchdowns.
Conner set ACC records for career rushing touchdowns (52) and total touchdowns (56). In Pitt annals, he emphatically established himself as one of the greatest backs in school history. Conner ranks second at Pitt in all-time rushing yards (3,733), total touchdowns and rushing TDs, trailing only the legendary Tony Dorsett in each of those categories.
"I don't think you could script James' story any better," Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said. "It really sounds like a Hollywood movie. Over the past 18 months, James has overcome a knee injury, defeated cancer and inspired countless people along the way.
"Tonight he is not only an NFL Draft pick but gets selected by the hometown Steelers. It's just incredible. We are so proud of James and thrilled that our neighbors got themselves a world-class person and player."
Conner is the first Pitt player to be drafted by the Steelers since cornerback Hank Poteat was a third-round pick in 2000.
The NFL Draft concludes on Saturday with rounds four through seven.
Q&As With Pitt's Recent NFL Draft Picks
Four Kickoff Times Announced for Pitt Football
Pitt Places 10 on Athlon's Preseason All-ACC Team
Pitt Student-Athletes Share Experiences from Haiti Trip
Pitt Football Unveils Young Alumni Ticket Program
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Donates $20,000 to Pittsburgh Charities