James Conner: Eric Berry's note resonated with me

NFL Media's Oklahoma Drill series presents exclusive, quick-hitting one-on-one interviews with players and coaches from around the league. No nonsense -- just football experiences directly from the source.

James Conner

Running back, Pittsburgh

Born: May 5, 1995

Experience: Draft prospect

Interview by Brooke Cersosimo | March 26, 2017

I'm just thankful because the game can be taken from you at any moment. Now, I really am just grateful and take football day by day. I play for those young kids with cancer or anybody who went through a tragedy in their life.

[Eric Berry] said, "Your physical appearance is going to change but don't let that change who you are as a person inside." There were times where I didn't recognize myself when I looked in the mirror [when I had Hodgkin lymphoma] because of what the chemo does to you, but you just have to stay true to yourself.

I was blessed and thankful for the opportunity to be at [the NFL Scouting Combine] with the best of the best at every position. The interviews went well, and it was a good time.

My [interview questions] were pretty serious, and they mostly asked me about my story and stuff. I didn't get any weird questions. I heard about some people getting weird ones, but I didn't get any.

I have one [workout set up] with Philadelphia on March 28.

I like the Steelers now just because I played in Pittsburgh. I'm a fan, but I liked the Cowboys growing up. I like Emmitt Smith a lot.

We practiced at the same facility [as the Steelers], so I was seeing those guys work every day.

Best place to eat in Pittsburgh is this shop called Wings Over Pittsburgh. They got boneless wings that are pretty good, so I get those often.

I'll be in Erie, Pennsylvania, my hometown [for the draft]. I'll just be with some close family and friends.

[Ben Roethlisberger and I] are 1-1 in pingpong right now. He beat me the first game and then I beat him the second. Then his kids had somewhere to be, so he had to leave. We didn't get a chance to do a tiebreaker, but he's a beast. I'm pretty good, too.

C.J. Beathard, quarterback from Iowa, is the best [pingpong] player I've played.

Big Joe Toledo has taught me a lot. He's helped me a lot on my board work as far as my protections and stuff. Everybody there has helped me. Carson Wentz came back [to Rep1 Sports to partake in study sessions], Jared Goff, Latavius Murray -- they came back and were helping us on the board. Ryan Lindley [was there], and I was with Mitch Trubisky, too. It was a group effort learning from a lot of quarterbacks.

I don't think [these study sessions with current NFL players] are common, so I definitely took advantage of that. It's rare that you have all the top guys and being able to learn from them in the same group.

[I model my game] after Marshawn Lynch. He's my favorite, just the way he runs. He refuses to go down. I wore No. 24 in college because of Marshawn.

[The team that drafts me] will get a guy who will play his role in the passing game, in short yardage, on the goal line, anything. They'll get a three-down back and a guy that's passionate for the game and who gives it everything on every snap.

My goals for my career are a couple of Pro Bowls, a Super Bowl. I never won a championship in college or high school, so I want to be a Super Bowl champion. I want to just do my job and have a big impact on the organization, and hopefully be in the Hall of Fame one day.

I think North Carolina is going to win [the NCAA men's basketball tournament].

Basketball. It's LeBron all day. Whoever he plays for, that's who I like. He does things the right way, and whatever team he's on he's going to make that team better. He's a freak athlete.

My first game of my sophomore season, I had like 150 yards and four touchdowns in the first half. That's when I knew [the NFL was within reach].

The last thing is ... I'm healthy.

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