James ConnerNo. 30 – Pittsburgh SteelersPosition: Running backPersonal informationBorn: (1995-05-05) May 5, 1995 (age 23)
James Earl Conner (born May 5, 1995) is an American football running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Pittsburgh, and was drafted by the Steelers in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. In 2014, he garnered AFCA first-team All-American honors and was awarded the ACC Player of the Year.Contents
Conner attended McDowell High School in Erie, Pennsylvania. He was a running back and defensive lineman on the football team. As a senior, he rushed for 1,680 yards on 155 carries and 26 touchdowns. He committed to play college football at the University of Pittsburgh in August 2012.College career 2013 season
As a true freshman in 2013, Conner played in 12 of 13 games. He made his collegiate debut during the Panthers' season opening loss to Florida State and had eight carries for 34-yards. The following week, he scored his first career touchdown against New Mexico and finished the win with 12 carries, 119 rushing yards, and a season-high two touchdowns. On December 26, 2013, Conner had a season-high 26 carries for 226-yards and a touchdown during a 30–27 victory over Bowling Green in the Little Caesar's Bowl. He was named the 2013 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl MVP. He led the team in rushing yards with 799 and rushing touchdowns with eight. Conner's 229 rushing yards broke Tony Dorsett's school record for rushing yards in a bowl game.2014 season
Conner started his sophomore season rushing for 153 yards on 14 carries and scored a season-high four touchdowns in the season-opening 62-0 win over Delaware. On November 1, 2014, Conner rushed for a career-high 263 rushing yards on a career-high 38 attempts and scored three touchdowns during a 48-51 double-overtime loss to No. 24 Duke. The next game, he passed two hundred yards rushing for a second consecutive game with 30 carries for 220-yards and career-high-tying four touchdowns in a loss to North Carolina.In his sophomore season in 2014, Conner rushed for 1,765 yards on 298 attempts and set an ACC record with 26 rushing touchdowns. He led the ACC in rushing yards and ranked 7th in the FBS. At the end of the season, he was named the ACC Player of the Year and garnered AFCA first-team All-American honors.2015 season
On September 5, 2015, Conner tore his MCL during the Panther's season opening 45-37 victory over Youngstown State. He finished the game with eight carries for 77 rushing yards and scored two rushing touchdowns and missed his entire junior season. He was also diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma during the rehab process and was finally cancer-free during the off-season.2016 season
Conner played in the Panthers' season-opener against Villanova and finished the victory with 17 carries for 53-yards and a touchdown while also accounting for three receptions for 15-yards and scored his first career touchdown reception. The next game, Conner had 22 attempts for 117 rushing yards and tied his career-high of four rushing touchdowns in a 42–39 victory over Penn State. He also had four receptions, 29 receiving yards, and a touchdown reception against Penn State. On September 17, 2016, Conner had a season-high 24 carries for 111 rushing yards and a touchdown during a 38-45 loss to Oklahoma State. 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 via Twitter that he intended to apply for early eligibility 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.College career statistics NCAA career statistics Pittsburgh Panthers Season Team Rushing Receiving G Att Yds Avg Long TD Rec Yds Avg Long TD 2013 Pittsburgh 12 146 799 5.5 45 8 3 33 11.0 13 0 2014 Pittsburgh 13 298 1,765 5.9 75T 26 5 70 14.0 40 0 2015 Pittsburgh 1 8 77 9.6 40 2 1 7 7.0 7 0 2016 Pittsburgh 13 216 1,092 5.1 40T 16 21 302 14.4 55T 4 Career 29 668 3,733 5.6 75T 52 30 412 13.7 55T 4 Professional career
When Conner was coming out of college, the majority of scouts and analysts projected him to be picked in the fifth or sixth round. Conner was ranked the 12th best running back available in the draft by Sports Illustrated and the 15th best running back by NFLDraftScout.com. He attended the NFL Scouting Combine, but chose to perform only the 40-yard dash, broad jump, vertical, and bench press. He completed the three-cone drill, short shuttle, and positional drills at Pitt's Pro Day to finish his combine performance.Pre-draft measurables Ht Wt Arm length Hand size 40-yard dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert jump Broad BP 6 ft 1 1⁄2 in
The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Conner in the third round (105th overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft. Conner was the eighth running back selected in the draft. He had the top selling NFL jersey throughout July, beating all rookies, as well as Marshawn Lynch, Von Miller, Dak Prescott, and Tom Brady.2017 season
On May 11, 2017, the Steelers signed Conner to a four-year contract. He entered training camp competing with veterans Knile Davis and Fitzgerald Toussaint for the vacant backup running back position left by DeAngelo Williams. Davis and Toussaint were released during final roster cutdowns, and Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin named Conner the backup to Le'Veon Bell to begin the regular season.
On September 10, 2017, Conner made his NFL debut and had four carries for 11 yards in a 21–18 victory over the Cleveland Browns. He played in 14 games as the primary backup to Le'Veon Bell, rushing for 144 yards on 32 attempts with no touchdowns. In Week 15, Conner suffered an MCL injury and was placed on injured reserve on December 19, 2017 after having surgery. Overall, he finished his rookie season with 32 carries for 144 yards.2018 season
Conner was named the starting running back for Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns after a contract dispute between the Steelers and Le'Veon Bell spilled into the regular season. Conner led the NFL with 135 yards and added 2 touchdowns; he also had 5 catches for 57 yards in a 21-21 tie.Personal life
James Conner was raised by his parents, Kelly Patterson and Glen Conner Sr. and is the youngest of five brothers. His brothers are Glen, Richard, Michael and Rico. Glen, Richard and Michael are blood related, while Rico is a stepbrother from his mother's second marriage. He majored in communication at Pitt.
On December 4, 2015, Conner announced he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Despite this, he said "I choose to not fear cancer...I will play football again." After tearing his MCL during the Panthers' first game of 2015, Conner began attending rehab and began experiencing excessive fatigue and other symptoms, leading doctors to perform a chest X-Ray that revealed Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He endured 12 rounds of chemotherapy and completed his last chemo appointment on May 9, 2016. During his treatment, Conner continued to participate in non-contact drills with the Pittsburgh Panthers football team as much as his body would allow.
Conner appeared on the April 21, 2016, episode of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and met Kansas City Chiefs' safety Eric Berry, who also overcame Hodgkin's Lymphoma and who Conner saw as an inspirational figure. During Conner's treatment, both players would speak via text but had never met in person.
On May 23, 2016, Conner announced on Twitter that he was cancer free.References