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Steelers Select Hometown Hero James Conner in 3rd Round

April 28, 2017
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Steelers Select Hometown Hero James Conner in 3rd Round

James Conner is leaving college football, but he’s not leaving the facility where he practiced or the stadium where he played.

The Steelers have made the former running back a third-round pick in the draft.

Conner’s story is well-documented; he survived cancer to return to football. Conner recently has said he was only 60 percent at the outset of the 2016 college season.

The Steelers currently have Le’Veon Bell at the top of the depth chart. He’s subject to the franchise tag, and could be gone after 2017. Conner, if he develops, could become an intriguing contributor in 2018.

Conner, who elected to bypass his final season of eligibility and go pro, ran for 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns this past season, breaking the ACC’s career touchdown record. A 6-foot-2, 230-pound favorite son of Erie, Pa., Conner watched the draft in his hometown with friends, family, former Pitt teammates and others.

“Draft day, I’ll be the most nervous,” Conner said after Pitt’s pro day last month. “The nerves on draft day will be real.”

Conner believes he wasn’t at 100 percent when last season started, still recovering from all his time away from football due to injury and Hodgkin lymphoma. But he felt stronger as the year wore on, and it showed.

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