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James Conner to undergo MCL surgery

James Conner won't get a chance to defend his title as the ACC's offensive player of the year. Coach Pat Narduzzi announced Monday that Pitt's star tailback will miss the rest of the season with a torn MCL.

Conner scored twice in the first quarter of Saturday's win over Youngstown State, but he left the game in the second quarter with an apparent knee injury. Conner had the knee wrapped in ice, but after the game, Narduzzi downplayed the injury's significance.

That diagnosis changed by Monday, when Narduzzi announced that Conner, who rushed for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns to lead the ACC last season, would be out for the year.

"Even with all of his success last year, James attacked his preparation for this season like he was fighting to earn a starting spot," Narduzzi said in a statement. "He is a tremendous competitor and teammate. After he was injured on Saturday, James was constantly in the ear of his teammates, encouraging them and coaching them on the sideline. Our entire program shares his disappointment, but we will also be behind him every step of the way in his recovery."

Conner, a junior, carried the ball 298 times last year, the seventh-highest total in the nation, but he had dropped weight this offseason in preparation for another heavy workload.

Backup tailback Chris James also left Saturday's game with an injury, leaving freshman Quadree Ollison to pick up the slack. Ollison rushed 16 times for 207 yards and a touchdown to help the Panthers pull away late.