09/07/16 - (RB) - James Conner, rJr, 6-2, 240 Pitt beats Villanova as Conner stars in return...Junior running back James Conner scored two touchdowns in his return from a serious knee injury and a cancer battle to help Pittsburgh record a 28-7 victory over Villanova on Saturday in a nonconference affair at Pittsburgh. Conner rushed for 53 yards and one touchdown and added a 9-yard scoring reception for the Panthers (1-0). Conner, the 2014 ACC Player of the Year, suffered a serious knee injury in last season's opener and was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in November before recently being declared free of cancer.
Sophomore Quadree Henderson returned a kickoff 96 yards for Pittsburgh. Senior quarterback Nate Peterman completed 19 of 32 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns. Villanova (0-1) totaled just 172 yards and its lone points came on a fumble return by junior safety Rob Rolle. The Wildcats had just 53 yards on the ground in 33 attempts and sophomore quarterback Zach Bednarczyk completed 16 of 31 passes for 119 yards and one interception. Conner, who rushed for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2014, gave the Panthers a 7-0 lead when he scored on a 3-yard run with 7:08 left in the first half. His touchdown catch came with 19 seconds left as Pittsburgh took a 14-point lead into the break. - The Sports Xchange
09/07/16 - (RB) - James Conner, rJr, 6-2, 240 The comeback James Conner never doubted, not once, officially ended with an unremarkable 1-yard loss. And while the Pittsburgh running back picked himself up and quietly headed back to the huddle early in the first quarter against Villanova on Saturday, thousands inside Heinz Field rose to their feet for a standing ovation that had nothing to do with football and everything to do with perseverance. There will be plenty of time for Conner to nitpick his performance in Pitt's 28-7 season-opening win. Just not Saturday. Conner's well aware of the significance of his familiar No. 24 jersey sprinting onto the field for the first time in 364 days, a layoff that began with a knee injury last September against Youngstown State then became something far more harrowing when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma around Thanksgiving. The road back included months of chemotherapy treatment, sessions that left him drained but undaunted. He soldiered through spring practice wearing a mask during drills to protect his depleted immune system, all the while hoping his example would resonate with those facing similar battles. It's a role he never envisioned having to fill, but one he's willingly embraced. - AP Sports
05/24/16 - (RB) - James Conner, rJr, 6-2, 240 Pittsburgh running back James Conner says he is cancer-free, less than six months after being diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. Conner posted on his Twitter account Monday: "God is AMAZING. Just got the call that my body is clean of cancer!!!" Been a long road but God has my back. Thanks everyone who said prayers!" Conner was the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year in 2014, then tore a ligament in his right knee in the first game of last season. Doctors discovered tumors on Conner's chest and neck at Thanksgiving and he was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. He started chemotherapy in December. Conner threw out the first pitch at a Pirates' game last month and said then he hoped to be ready for the start of Pitt's season. - AP Sports
05/22/16 - (FS) - Jordan Whitehead, So, 5-10, 185 2016 Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List: Jordan Whitehead, DB, Pitt (5-11, 185, Aliquippa, PA): One of the top freshmen in the country last season; Consensus Frosh All-American; led Pitt with 109 tackles, most ever by a freshman; Also Academic All-ACC; Rushed 12 times for 122 yards and two touchdowns. - Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation/Lott IMPACT Trophy
05/12/16 - (RB) - James Conner, rJr, 6-2, 240 RB James Conner is one step closer to returning to the football field and getting back on track to his dream of playing in the NFL.
The All-American completed his 12th and final chemotherapy treatment Monday in his battle with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He was diagnosed with the disease last Thanksgiving.
On Monday, Conner tweeted, "Glory to God allowing me to get through these 12 schedule chemo treatments. Been a long road, Results coming soon!"
Conner emerged as an intriguing NFL prospect as a sophomore with 1,765 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns, receiving 2014 ACC Offensive Player of the Year honors. However, he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the 2015 season opener and was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma a few months later.
When healthy, Conner has next-level talent and was viewed as a possible top-100 draft pick. Listed at 6 feet 2 and 240 pounds, he is a bruising ball carrier who runs with balance, vision and physical finish to make a living between the tackles.
Conner doesn't have the speed or make-you-miss agility that jumps off the screen, but he is able to be productive with his ability to read blocks and pick his way through congestion.
Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry was sidelined by Hodgkin's Lymphoma and made a successful return to the field for the 2015 season, nearly nine months after his initial diagnosis. He was named to the 2015 Pro Bowl and NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
Former Auburn offensive lineman Shon Coleman was diagnosed with leukemia and required 30 months of chemo treatments before returning to campus. He started at left tackle for the Tigers the past two seasons and was a third-round draft pick by the Cleveland Browns last month.
Despite several medical setbacks during the past year, Conner plans to play in the NFL. If he is medically cleared to resume football activities in the next few months, Conner should regain his spot atop the Pitt running back depth chart for the 2016 season. And if he
04/21/16 - (RB) - James Conner, rJr, 6-2, 240 James Conner's lungs are clear. His focus, too. Less than five months after being diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, the Pittsburgh running back can see the finish line. The cancer is retreating. His strength is returning. The relentless optimism that has fueled his fight never in doubt. "Things are falling into place now like before I even knew I had cancer," Conner said on Sunday after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the Pittsburgh Pirates hosted the St. Louis Cardinals the 2016 Major League opener.
Conner's toss to Chris Stewart took a hop before landing in the catcher's glove as the black-clad sellout crowd at chilly PNC Park roared. The ever competitive 2014 ACC Player of the Year smacked his hands in faux frustration, the rare misstep during a journey that has thrust the 20-year-old into the unlikely role of inspirational figure. It's a job Conner didn't seek out but has hungrily accepted during his very public fight. "I tell people they can do it and help people get through things and not complain about the little things," Conner said. Including an out-of-nowhere bout with mortality. Conner was rehabbing from a torn ligament in his right knee sustained in the 2015 opener against Youngstown State when his sluggishness turned into a stunning diagnosis in late-November. - AP Sports
01/01/16 - (WR) - *Tyler Boyd, Jr, 6-1, 197 Pitt WR Boyd to enter NFL Draft...Pitt junior wide receiver Tyler Boyd announced Friday that he will skip his senior season and enter the 2016 NFL Draft. Boyd leaves Pitt with school records for career catches (254) and receiving yards (3,361). He is currently ranked as the No. 5 draft-eligible receiver in the 2016 class and projected as a top-50 pick by NFLDraftScout.com. Although he didn't surpass 1,000 yards in 2015 (the only season he failed to reach that benchmark), Boyd set a career best with 91 catches and added six touchdowns. With streaky quarterback play and running back James Conner sidelined for the 2015 season, the Pitt play-calling manufactured touches for Boyd, including handoffs and screens, as he was the team's best playmaker on offense. Despite playing with three different starting quarterbacks each of his three years with the Panthers, Boyd produced consistent numbers each season, breaking several school records in the process. Boyd has an instant accelerator to reach his top speed with his initial strides, using sharp cuts and burst off his plant foot to mix his gears in his patterns. - The Sports Xchange
12/04/15 - (RB) - James Conner, rJr, 6-2, 240 Pittsburgh junior running back James Conner has been diagnosed with cancer and will begin treatment immediately. The 2014 ACC Player of the Year said Friday he received the diagnosis of stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma on Thanksgiving and has tumors in his neck and chest. He will begin chemotherapy next week. Treatment will last about six months. Conner tore a ligament in his right knee in the 2015 season opener against Youngstown State. He had been contemplating returning for his senior season or turning pro. Those plans are put on hold while he focuses on his health. Conner said he was at a crossroads while trying to decide whether to come back. He calls his diagnosis a blessing in disguise and said he plans to play for Pitt when he's healthy. - AP Sports
12/01/15 - (WR) - *Tyler Boyd, Jr, 6-1, 197 2015 ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE FIRST TEAM (MEDIA): WR Tyler Boyd, Jr., Pitt, 147/150 Votes...For Boyd (Clairton, Pa./Clairton), this is the third All-ACC recognition of his career and second consecutive season he was a first-team pick. Boyd paces the ACC in receptions per game (7.7 avg.) and receiving yards per game (79.4 avg.). Boyd is Pitt’s all-time career leader in catches (248) and receiving yards (3,308). - Pitt Football
12/01/15 - (OLB) - Ejuan Price, rSr, 5-11, 250 2015 ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE FIRST TEAM (MEDIA): DE Ejuan Price, Sr.-R, Pitt, 111/150 Votes...Price (Rankin, Pa./Woodland Hills) is fifth in the nation and first in the ACC with an average of 0.96 quarterback sacks per game. He has 11.5 total sacks, the most by a Pitt player since 2000. Price has compiled 19.5 tackles for loss on the year, ranking second nationally and second in the ACC (1.6 TFLs/game). - Pitt Football
12/01/15 - (OT) - Adam Bisnowaty, rSr, 6-5, 300 2015 ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE SECOND TEAM (MEDIA): T Adam Bisnowaty, Jr.-R, Pitt, 77/150 Votes...Adam Bisnowaty (Pittsburgh, Pa./Fox Chapel) and Dorian Johnson (Belle Vernon, Pa./Belle Vernon Area) form the left side of a Pitt offensive line that produced a 1,000-yard rusher for the second consecutive season. The pair helped Pitt gain recognition as a semifinalist for the Joe Moore Award, presented to the nation’s top offensive front. - Pitt Football
12/01/15 - (RB) - Qadree Ollison, rSo, 6-1, 230 2015 ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE SECOND TEAM (MEDIA): RB Qadree Ollison, Fr.-R, Pitt, 69/150 Votes...Ollison (Niagara Falls, N.Y./Canisius) entered the 2015 season as the Panthers’ third-string tailback. Three months later he became only the fifth freshman in Pitt history to achieve a 1,000-yard rushing season, compiling 1,048 yards and 10 touchdowns on 204 carries (5.1 avg.). - Pitt Football
12/01/15 - (OG) - Dorian Johnson, Sr, 6-5, 300 2015 ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE SECOND TEAM (MEDIA): G Dorian Johnson, Jr., Pitt, 49/150 Votes...Adam Bisnowaty (Pittsburgh, Pa./Fox Chapel) and Dorian Johnson (Belle Vernon, Pa./Belle Vernon Area) form the left side of a Pitt offensive line that produced a 1,000-yard rusher for the second consecutive season. The pair helped Pitt gain recognition as a semifinalist for the Joe Moore Award, presented to the nation’s top offensive front. - Pitt Football
12/01/15 - (DT) - Darryl Render, Sr, 6-2, 283 2015 ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE THIRD TEAM (MEDIA): DT Darryl Render, Sr., Pitt, 31/150 Votes...A four-year fixture on the interior, Render (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Edward) has played an unheralded but invaluable role for the Panthers’ nationally ranked defense. His statistics this season (16 tackles) belie his importance in eating up blocks, allowing Pitt’s linebacker unit to roam free and make plays. - Pitt Football
12/01/15 - (FS) - Jordan Whitehead, So, 5-10, 185 2015 ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE THIRD TEAM (MEDIA): S Jordan Whitehead, Fr., Pitt, 41/150 Votes...The Panthers’ leading tackler this season, Whitehead has compiled 99 stops, the most by a Pitt true freshman in 28 years. His average of 8.2 tackles per game ranks eighth in the ACC and he is the only freshman among the league’s top 10 tacklers. - Pitt Football
12/01/15 - (CB) - Avonte Maddox, Jr, 5-09, 170 2015 ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE HONORABLE MENTION (MEDIA): CB Avonte Maddox, So., Pitt, 21/150 Votes... Maddox (Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King) ranks fourth in the ACC and 25th nationally in passes defended with an average of 1.3 per game. He has 12 pass breakups and three interceptions (including one returned for a 30-yard touchdown against Louisville) on the year. - Pitt Football
12/01/15 - (FS) - Jordan Whitehead, So, 5-10, 185 2015 ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE ROOKIE & DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR (MEDIA): Pitt freshman strong safety Jordan Whitehead has been voted the 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year following a regular season in which he emerged as one of the conference’s leading tacklers and helped the Panthers to eight wins and bowl bid. Whitehead was also chosen as the ACC’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in voting by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA), which selected Panthers running back Qadree Ollison as the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. Pitt became the first school to sweep both ACC Rookie of the Year honors since the conference began honoring first-year players on both sides of the ball in 2007.
A natural fit for the defensive-minded Panthers under first-year head coach Pat Narduzzi, Whitehead finished the regular season with 99 tackles to rank among the ACC leaders. The steady defensive back from Alquippa, Pennsylvania, has five games this season with double-digit tackles, and is one tackle shy of becoming just the second freshman in Pitt history to record 100 tackles in a single season. Whitehead has intercepted one pass while breaking up six others and has 5.5 tackles for loss, including a quarterback sack. A versatile player who also saw time on offense, Whitehead has rushed for 79 yards and two touchdowns on just 10 carries and has two pass receptions. - ACC Football
12/01/15 - (RB) - Qadree Ollison, rSo, 6-1, 230 2015 ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE OFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR (MEDIA): Forced into an expanded role in September due to injuries, Ollison responded by rushing for 1,048 yards and 10 touchdowns to lead a Panther ground attack that ranks fourth in the ACC. Ollison was voted the ACC Rookie of the Week on two occasions, the first of which followed his 207-yard rushing performance against Youngstown State in the season opener. Ollison’s 1,048 rushing yards are the seventh-most by a freshman in ACC history. A native of Niagara Falls, New York, Ollison is one of just five freshmen in Pitt school history to reach the 1,000-yard rushing milestone. - ACC Football
11/23/15 - (OLB) - Ejuan Price, rSr, 5-11, 250 NOV 23 ACC DEFENSIVE LINEMAN OF THE WEEK: Ejuan Price, Pitt, Sr., DE, 6-0, 250, Rankin, Pa.,...Price posted one of the finest defensive performances in recent Pitt history with 10 tackles, five sacks and six tackles for loss in Saturday’s 45-34 win over Louisville. Price’s sack total was the highest by an FBS player in 2015 and fell one shy of the national record. He spearheaded a defensive effort that limited Louisville to minus-one yard on the ground, the first time Pitt held an opponent to negative yards rushing since 2002. Price became the first Pitt player with at least 4.5 sacks in a game since 1987, and his six tackles for loss were the most by a Panther since Aaron Donald also had six vs. Georgia Tech in 2013. Price now ranks fourth in the nation and first in the ACC with an average of 1.05 sacks per game. His 11.5 total sacks are the most in a single season by a Pitt player since 2000. Price was awarded a “Helmet Sticker” on ESPN College Football Final for his Louisville performance. - ACC Football
11/14/15 - (QB) - Nathan Peterman, rSr, 6-2, 225 Nate Peterman tied a career high with three touchdown passes to lead Pittsburgh past Duke 31-13 on Saturday. Peterman was 13 of 23 for 180 yards with touchdowns of 11 yards to Zach Challingsworth, 3 yards to J.P. Holtz and 5 yards to Dontez Ford. Qadree Ollison added 111 yards rushing with a late 1-yard TD to help Pitt (7-3, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) snap a two-game losing streak and keep its slim Coastal Division hopes alive, though the Panthers need some help from No. 17 North Carolina, the division leader. Parker Boehme was 23 of 42 for 248 yards with an interception and a 1-yard touchdown run in his first career start. Ross Martin kicked two field goals for Duke (6-4, 3-3), which has lost three straight — its longest losing streak since 2012. This could have been the final stage of a three-team round robin that could have decided the Coastal, but the surging Tar Heels pretty much took care of that by beating Pitt and Blue Devils in the past two weeks. - AP Sports
10/27/15 - (RB) - Qadree Ollison, rSo, 6-1, 230 OCT 26 ACC ROOKIE OF THE WEEK: Qadree Ollison, Pitt, Fr.-r, RB, 6-2, 230, Niagara Falls, N.Y.,...Ollison was Pitt’s workhorse on the ground at Syracuse, rushing for 103 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. He proved especially instrumental on the Panthers’ game-winning drive that covered 89 yards in 19 plays and exhausted the final 9:20 of regulation, converting three third downs (two third-and-1 plays and a third-and-6). His final rush on the third-and-6 play went for seven yards and set up a game-winning 25-yard field goal. The redshirt freshman, who began the year as Pitt’s third-string tailback, now has 662 yards on 118 carries and seven touchdowns in his debut season. - ACC Football
10/27/15 - (ILB) - Matt Galambos, Sr, 6-1, 240 OCT 26 ACC LINEBACKER OF THE WEEK: Matt Galambos, Pitt, LB, Jr., 6-2, 240, Collingdale, Pa.,... Galambos keyed Pitt's victory at Syracuse from his middle linebacker position and as an unlikely pass receiver. The junior had three tackles for loss and an interception to go with five total stops. His interception came with Pitt trailing 17-13 late in the third quarter and the Orange threatening at the Panthers' 42. He also had a key tackle for loss near the goal line as Pitt held Syracuse to a field goal in the second quarter and a key stop on third-and-1 later in the game. Galambos played a role in the Panthers' game-winning drive that covered 19 plays and ate up the final 9:20 on the clock, catching a 12-yard pass on a fake punt on fourth-and-7 from the Pitt 48 with less than five minutes remaining. Per ESPN.com, Galambos is the only linebacker in the nation since 2006 to record an interception and a reception in the same game. - ACC Football
10/27/15 - (WR) - *Tyler Boyd, Jr, 6-1, 197 OCT 26 ACC RECEIVER OF THE WEEK: Tyler Boyd, Pitt, Jr., WR, 6-2, 200, Clairton, Pa.,...The versatile Boyd completed a 38-yard pass, rushed six times for 34 yards and had a career-high 12 receptions for 93 yards in the Panthers’ 23-20 win at Syracuse. Boyd accounted for nearly 40 percent of Pitt’s total yardage (165 of 427 yards) in the win, and also had three kickoff returns for a total of 75 yards. Boyd became the first Division I player since UTEP’s Lorne Sam in 2007 to record 20 yards passing, rushing and receiving in consecutive games. Boyd, who has already established himself as Pitt’s all-time leading pass catcher with 216 receptions in just two and a half seasons, leads the ACC this season in receptions (8.8) and receiving yards (81.5) per game. - ACC Football
10/26/15 - (K) - Chris Blewitt, Sr, 5-09, 190 Pat Narduzzi passed the audition. So did his punter, and kicker. The coach of No. 25 Pittsburgh displayed his disgust by walking down the sideline wondering why his team was unable to convert a third down play with the score tied and time running down. But the Panthers never planned to punt the ball away to Syracuse. Instead, the first-year coach called for a fake punt, Ryan Winslow hit linebacker Matt Galambos for 12 yards and a first down and Chris Blewitt kicked a 25-yard field goal on the final play for a 23-20 win on Saturday.
"I did a good job acting," said Narduzzi, who was on the Rhode Island staff with Syracuse coach Scott Shafer in the 1990s. "I know Scott was probably looking over, so I walked down the sideline - how come we couldn't get that first down? Didn't matter where on the field. I had a lot of confidence in that punt fake." After the first down pass from punter Winslow to Galambos, Qadree Ollison took care of the rest with 26 yards on seven straight carries to set up the winning kick. The Panthers (6-1, 4-0 ACC) have now won four of five on the road, with their only loss at Iowa on a 57-yard field goal on the final play of the game. - AP Sports
10/19/15 - (K) - Chris Blewitt, Sr, 5-09, 190 OCT 19 ACC SPECIALIST OF THE WEEK: Chris Blewitt, Pitt, Sr., PK, 5-9, 190, Alexandria, Va.,...Blewitt was the hero of Pitt’s game at Georgia Tech, kicking a school-record 56-yard field goal with 1:11 left to give the Panthers a 31-28 win. The kick eclipsed the 21-year-old Pitt record held by David Merrick (54 yards vs. Texas in 1994). Blewitt was 4-for-4 on kicking efforts (3-for-3 on PATs, plus his lone, successful record field goal attempt). He also helped the Panthers in the battle for field position battle by registering four touchbacks on six kickoffs. - ACC Football