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Pitt running back calls pain in his sprained left knee a 'minor setback'

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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt running back James Conner runs during practice Friday, March 28, 2014, on Pittsburgh's South Side.

Conner meets Marino

CLICK HERE to see a video of James Conner talking about his meeting with Pitt legend Dan Marino.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Sunday, April 6, 2014, 11:45 a.m.
 

Pitt running back James Conner, wearing a brace on his sprained left knee, met Pitt great Dan Marino on Saturday night at the Central Catholic High School charity auction where Conner promised to return from the injury in “just a couple of weeks.”

“It's a minor setback for a major comeback,” he said.

Conner was invited to the event at the Westin William Penn with his friend, Michael Gallagher, a Central Catholic graduate.

Conner said his “heart dropped” when he saw Marino enter the banquet hall.

“It was a blessing to meet Mr. Marino. He gives you those words of wisdom, and you just take everything in,” he said.

“It was a life-changing experience. I'm trying to follow in his footsteps and be a Pitt great.”

Conner called his injury Friday during spring practice “a freak accident.”

“I was just going out of bounds and stepped on it the wrong way,” he said. “Just a couple weeks. It will be good.”

Conner said he knew immediately that keeping the injury private would be difficult.

“When I was holding my knee, I could tell the word was going to get out,” he said.

“That's how social media works these days. It was a huge reaction, but it's good to know people care about our program and care about the team so much.”

Conner, who received an MRI shortly after he was injured, said he was watching ESPN later when he saw a report of a major-league baseball player who suffered a similar injury.

“They said he was going to get an MRI in a couple days,” Conner said. “It kind of shocked me. I got one within hours. I felt pretty special at that point.”

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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