Teams Think James Conner Should Return for Senior Year
Updated Sept. 16, 2016
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.
One of the happiest moments of the college football season has been the return of Pittsburgh running back James Conner. What was supposed to be a big 2015 season for Conner never got off the ground as he tore his ACL. Then, he was diagnosed with cancer. Conner was declared cancer free in the spring and was already training hard to return to football this fall. Conner has had a triumphant return to the field with four touchdowns in his first two games, but for his pro potential, sources say Conner would be better served returning for his senior year.
Conner (6-2, 235) was heavier and faster before the injury and illness. Teams wouldn't blame Conner at all if he decides to skip his senior year, given the injury risk that all players take when returning to school. They especially wouldn't blame Conner given all that he has had to persevere through. However, putting more time behind him with a true offseason to work on getting back to 100 percent could help him to be a more devastating runner in 2017, and thus a higher draft pick for the NFL.
Sources say that it is very understandable that Conner hasn't completely regained the speed, explosion, and power that he had as a runner in 2013-14. Teams really like Conner off the field and admire his toughness to make such a fast return to the field. For his football future, they think he would have a better shot of being a mid-round or even second-day pick if he returned for his senior year. Right now, they say that Conner would be a day-three and possible late-round pick.