James Conner: Receiving cancer-free call felt like getting drafted

Monday brought the great news that James Conner is cancer-free, and the Pittsburgh running back thought back to the second night of the 2016 NFL Draft as he described how he felt upon hearing that he had a clean bill of health.

Conner said he was with his former Pitt teammate, wide receiver Tyler Boyd, when Boyd was selected in the second round of this year's draft by the Bengals and compared the emotions he felt upon hearing he was cancer-free to those he saw Boyd experience when he was picked.

"Honestly, I felt like I got drafted," Conner told reporters on Tuesday. "I was with Tyler on draft night and seeing him wait for the call. I felt the same. I was waiting for a phone call. But this is better. ... This is my life."

Conner revealed he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in December. He returned to work out with his teammates by February and completed chemotherapy treatments two weeks ago.

Stanley Marks, Conner's doctor, said on Tuesday that Conner's cancer is in complete remission, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Sam Werner, and Conner said he expects to be ready to play when Pitt opens camp in August.

"That's the plan, but like (the) doctor said, nothing is guaranteed in this," Conner said. "I'm happy. I'm celebrating, but we still have to stay on top of it and still be smart because I have to get my body back."

Conner has not played in a game since last year's season opener, when he suffered a season-ending right knee injury. He rose to the ranks of college football's elite in 2014, when he was selected ACC Player of the Year after rushing for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns.

Conner, who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds, said he didn't lose any weight while he was undergoing treatment and is actually a few pounds heavier than he was at the outset.

Pitt opens the season on Sept. 3 at home against Villanova.

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