James Conner's return to the football field from Hodgkin lymphoma will begin when Pittsburgh opens fall camp on Aug. 8. Coach Pat Narduzzi confirmed Monday that the ACC's 2014 Player of the Year will participate fully in preseason practice, though he will be monitored.
"We have to slow him down," Narduzzi told ESPN. "He won't slow himself down. We just have to monitor him a little bit, make sure we don't wear him out. We have to be smart. You let him go out there for a two-a-day, but you don't have him out there every snap."
Narduzzi said Conner would wear a GPS device to help the coaching staff get a better idea of the pace he's able to maintain. Conner missed most of last season with a knee injury, then was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in December.
He worked out with the Panthers as much as possible during his cancer battle, and completed chemotherapy treatment in early May. Conner announced he was cancer-free later that month. In April during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, he met a source of inspiration in Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry, who also beat Hodgkin lymphoma and was named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year for 2015.
Conner (6-foot-2, 240 pounds) rushed for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2014. He could use 2015 as a redshirt season and return to Pitt in 2017 as a fifth-year senior, or enter the 2017 NFL Draft.