Pitt running back James Conner completed his sixth round of chemotherapy this week for Hodgkin lymphoma -- halfway home in his treatment regimen.
Pat Narduzzi sat with him, his mother, grandmother and other friends for the 3 1/2 hours, the first time the coach had a chance to lend Conner support during one of these treatment rounds.
"I told him he finished one touchdown. Now he’s got one touchdown to go," Narduzzi said in an interview with ESPN.com.
That was Monday. After the treatment wrapped up, Conner went home and slept.
On Tuesday, Conner was back in the weight room lifting. On Wednesday, he participated in the team's offseason fourth-quarter drills, held in the wee hours of the morning as a way to build toughness and character. Conner participates in about 90-95 percent of the same workouts his teammates do, refusing to let his cancer change his life.
Amazed at everything Conner continues to do, Narduzzi decided to post video of one drill in particular that Conner ran during fourth-quarter drills last week. It's called the "L" drill.
"I just wanted to video him because it’s amazing he’s out there, and I said, 'Shoot, I’m just going to tweet this thing out there,'" Narduzzi said. "It’s incredible that he’s going out there doing it."
— Pat Narduzzi (@CoachDuzzPittFB) February 13, 2016
But not remarkable enough for Conner.
The drill was sloppy but it was the 1st time doing that drill since knee surgery and chemo treatments, I will be in great shape game day!
— James Conner ️ (@JamesConner_) February 13, 2016
Conner has stayed busy inside the team facility beyond these drills. A few weeks ago, teammate Khaynin Mosley-Smith posted video of Conner running on a treadmill. Last week, Steelers receiver Antonio Brown did a short video snapchat with Conner in which he asks, "JC, how's business?" Conner replies, "Boomin'!"
As for Conner's teammates, they remain inspired each and every day.
"It's amazing," freshmen safety Jordan Whitehead said. "I never really knew anybody with cancer, so seeing somebody work out with it that I'm very close to, it's unbelievable to me, just having him work out every day even though he's going through what he's going through. I already know he's going to be healthy and how he's feeling for this season coming up."
Everybody knows: Conner will be back. The goal has been set to play again in September.
"The doc says most people after chemo lay down and veg on the coach and don’t move," Narduzzi said. "This guy is a different deal and it’s almost brought a new life upon what these kids can do, what people can do, what the normal person can do if they have it in their heart to do it. Everybody can go home and feel sorry for themselves, 'hey I got cancer, I got chemo I ain’t doing anything for the next week.' But that guy, he keeps going. He’s going to beat cancer's (butt), that’s his goal.
"He’s going to be 1-0 before we get to Villanova."