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Pitt football notebook: Connor's work ethic a coach's dream

| Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, 7:54 p.m.

• Pitt running back coach John Settle has been around football for most of the past three decades, but something happening on the practice fields this summer is new to him: He never has seen a player work on both sides of the ball at this level like James Conner. “This is a first,” said Settle, who said he doesn't mind sharing Conner with defensive ends coach John Palermo. “I don't think I can get around that. To (Conner's) credit, he is doing a heckuva job keeping up with both installs. Right now, he is loving the game because he is able to do something that a lot of guys can't do. As a coach, you'd be crazy not to take advantage of it.”

• Every morning, Conner spends several minutes with Palermo, who instructs him on the finer points of rushing the passer, and then he joins the running backs. In 11-on-11 drills, Conner mostly is on offense, but he always slips onto the other side for a few snaps.

• Freshman wide receiver Adonis Jennings suffered what coach Paul Chryst called a “lower-body injury,” and spent most of the morning working with the strength coaches. Meanwhile, sophomore Tyler Boyd, who has become a leader of the young group of wide receivers, kept an eye on Jennings. “No one got pushed harder than Tyler last year,” Chryst said, “so he's not real sympathetic to anybody. He was just making sure (Jennings) stayed on track. And Adonis wanted (Boyd's attention).”

• Among the high school prospects visiting practice Tuesday was Central Catholic safety John Petrishen, who is uncommitted.

• Defensive end David Durham has been nominated for the Allstate American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team. The award recognizes community service accomplishments.

— Jerry DiPaola

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