Get to Know: Pitt’s James Conner

Name: James Conner
Height: 6 ft. 2 in. | Weight: 240 lb.
Date of Birth: December 11, 1992
Class: Junior
Hometown: Erie, Pa.
High School: McDowell
Favorite athlete of all-time: Deion Sanders
Favorite NFL team: Dallas Cowboys
Favorite football drill: Oklahoma
Favorite place to play on the road: Blacksburg, Va.
Favorite pregame meal: Lasagna
Favorite postgame meal: Subway
Snapchat or Instagram: Instagram
Cats or Dogs: Dogs
Favorite Holiday: Christmas
Go-to song at karaoke night: Any song by Trey Songz
Biggest pet peeve: Liars
Biggest fear: Being buried alive

After rushing for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2014, Pitt running back James Conner earned ACC Player of the Year. Conner established himself as one of the nation’s best offensive weapons and ultimately drew comparisons to fellow Panther great and Heisman Trophy winner, Tony Dorsett.

James Conner would have likely been a first-round pick in next year’s NFL Draft had he not torn his MCL in the season opener against Youngstown State. Unfortunately for Conner, a torn MCL took a recent backseat to a much greater challenge.

James received a phone call on Thanksgiving morning that he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that starts in white blood cells. Ironically, it was while James was rehabbing his knee when he noticed shortness of breath and his face became extremely puffy. He decided to see a doctor who subsequently discovered tumors in James’ head and chest.

“When I heard those words—‘You have cancer’—I admit I was scared,” Conner said. “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.”

According to the Inquisitr, James Conner started chemotherapy yesterday at the Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers, and he will receive treatment once every two weeks for six months. Luckily for Conner, the average cure rate for someone diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma is 85-95 percent.

“I will play football again. I will be at Heinz Field again,” Conner said. “I have the best coaches and teammates in the country. I thank God I chose Pitt because now I also have the best doctors in the country and together we will win. I know this city has my back.”

You can say that again, James. Not only does the city of Pittsburgh have your back, but the entire nation will support you through this difficult time.

James Conner’s athletic accomplishments are well renowned, but he’s an All-American off the field as well. Conner was honored this fall as a member of the prestigious Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, a select group of student-athletes who have made a positive impact on their community.

His volunteer work included numerous visits to the Children’s Hospital, Mel Blount Youth Home, the humanitarian organization World Vision, as well as the National Kidney Foundation. For someone who has given so much to Pittsburgh both on and off the field, it’s time for the community to put James Conner on its shoulders.

I had the distinct privilege of meeting James briefly at ACC Kickoff in Pinehurst this past August, and it was clear that this kid is something special. He had a humbling aura about him and an approachable twinkle in his eye. I have no doubt that we will see you tearing apart defenses on the football field again, James. After all, you are the Terminator.