Pittsburgh running back James Conner is one of the most remarkable human beings in college football. At the age of 21, Conner has lived a full life with more accolades and examples of overcoming adversity than many will have in their entire playing career.
After being named ACC Player of the Year in 2014, Conner suffered a season-ending in knee injury in the opener of the following season. Just a few months into his recovery, Conner announced that he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. The day of that announcement, Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi shared his experience with the disease that also claimed the life of his father, and the two became tied together forever.
Conner announced that he was cancer free in May, returned to action in September with two touchdowns against Villanova, and after re-asserting himself as Pitt's No. 1 running back ,he got right back to his 2014 form. On Saturday against Duke, Conner set two ACC career records in the Panthers' 56-14 win.
Conner's two-touchdown performance broke the ACC career rushing touchdown record (49, NC State's Ted Brown) and the league's total touchdown mark (52, Virginia's Wali Lundy).
Pittsburgh put together a flip-book video of all 53 touchdowns on Twitter.
What a person. What a player.— Pitt Football (@Pitt_FB) November 19, 2016
ACC Record Breaker.
Relive all 53 James Conner TDs.#H2P#Pitt#ConnerStrongpic.twitter.com/nbNNHMNsKE
Conner didn't let cancer keep him from participating in spring practice with his teammates. He wore a mask while working out during for protection as his treatments lowered his white blood cell count and made him more prone to getting ill. Outside of that mask and the no-contact rules, it resembled any other spring for Pitt's star running back as he worked his way back to the field.