Pittsburgh Panthers

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 20: Tailback James Conner #24 of the University of Pittsburgh Panthers runs with the ball against the University of Iowa Hawkeyes during a college football game at Heinz Field on September 20, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Hawkeyes defeated the Pitt Panthers 24-20. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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Pitt RB James Conner tweets his ‘body is clean of cancer’

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How about some excellent news for a change?

Late Monday afternoon, Pittsburgh running back James Conner tweeted out the words he’s been waiting months to say: “Just got the call that my body is clean of cancer!!!”  The news comes five months after Conner revealed that he had been diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma in his neck and chest.

It also comes less than two weeks after the back completed his chemotherapy treatments.

The treatment hadn’t kept Conner completely away from the Panthers, however, as the running back was seen on video working out with teammates last month while he has been doing some individuals drills since the start of spring practice this month.  He’s also gotten the “celebrity treatment” during his battle as the back threw out the first pitch at a Pittsburgh Pirates game and made an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said earlier this offseason that he expects Conner to play in 2016.

As a sophomore, Conner was named the ACC’s Player of the Year in 2014.  He was fully expected to leave for the NFL following the 2015 season before the combination of a season-ending knee injury suffered in September and the cancer diagnosis prompted a return to Pitt.

UPDATED 7:47 p.m. ET:  Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi released a statement addressing Conner’s positive medical update.

Over the past six months, James Conner fought cancer the same way he plays football: relentlessly and without surrender. He has inspired and touched so many people in how he has handled this challenge. James is an incredibly special person, and I’m not even thinking about his football ability when I say that. Everyone at Pitt feels blessed to know him and we are tremendously thankful for the wonderful news he received today.

ACC releases early season TV schedule

LOUISVILLE, KY - OCTOBER 30:  Michael Dyer #5 of the Louisville Cardinals runs the ball in the first quarter against the Florida State Seminoles during their game at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on October 30, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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The early portion of the 2016 college football season is, finally, beginning to take shape. ESPN has released its opening weekend schedule and broadcast tandems in recent days, and now the ACC has stepped up to the plate by unveiling the conference’s complete broadcast schedule for the first three weeks of the season.

As you may expect, the ACC slate is packed full of Thursday and Friday night games. In addition to opening weekend dandies like B.C.- Georgia Tech from Ireland, UNC-Georgia from Atlanta and FSU-Ole Miss on Labor Day night, the early season schedule is highlighted by the reunion of the Keystone State rivalry in Pittsburgh on Sept. 10 and an interesting Florida State-Louisville duel on Sept. 17.

Without further ado, below is the complete slate of ACC broadcast dates as it stands today (all times Eastern):

Thursday, Sept. 1
Charlotte at Louisville — 7 p.m., RSN
Tulane at Wake Forest — 7 p.m., ESPN3
William & Mary at N.C. State — 7:30 p.m., ESPN3

Friday, Sept. 2
Colgate at Syracuse — 7 p.m., ESPN3

Saturday, Sept. 3
Boston College vs. Georgia Tech (from Dublin, Ireland) — 7:30 a.m., ESPN2
Liberty at Virginia Tech — 12:30 p.m., ACC Network
Villanova at Pitt — 1:30 p.m., ESPN3
Richmond at Virginia — 3:30 p.m., ESPN3
North Carolina vs. Georgia (from Atlanta) — 5:30 p.m., ESPN
Florida A&M at Miami — 6 p.m., ESPN3
North Carolina Central at Duke — 6 p.m., ESPN3
Clemson at Auburn — 9 p.m., ESPN

Monday, Sept. 5
Florida State vs. Ole Miss (from Orlando, Fla.) — 8 p.m., ESPN

Friday, Sept. 9
Louisville at Syracuse — 8 p.m., ESPN2

Saturday, Sept. 10
Penn State at Pitt — 12 p.m., ABC/ESPN
Charleston Southern at Florida State — 12:30 p.m., RSN
Troy at Clemson — 12:30 p.m., ACC Network
Mercer at Georgia Tech — 3 p.m., ESPN3
Wake Forest at Duke — 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
Florida Atlantic at Miami — 6 p.m., ESPN3
North Carolina at Illinois — 7:30 p.m., BTN

Saturday, Sept. 17
Florida State at Louisville — 12 p.m., ABC
South Carolina State at Clemson — 12 p.m., RSN
Vanderbilt at Georgia Tech — 12:30 p.m., ACC Network
Boston College at Virginia Tech — 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
South Florida at Syracuse — 3:30 p.m., ESPN3
James Madison at North Carolina — 3:30 p.m., RSN
Old Dominion at N.C. State — 6 p.m., ESPN3
Delaware at Wake Forest — 6:30 p.m., ESPN3

Thursday, Sept. 22
Clemson at Georgia Tech — 7:30 p.m., ESPN

Saturday, Sept. 24
Duke at Notre Dame — 3:30 p.m., NBC

Friday, Oct. 7
Clemson at Boston College — 7:30 p.m., ESPN

Friday, Oct. 14
Duke at Louisville — 7 p.m., ESPN

Thursday, Oct. 20
Miami at Virginia Tech — 7 p.m., ESPN

Thursday, Oct. 27
Virginia Tech at Pitt — 7 p.m., ESPN

Saturday, Oct. 29
Miami at Notre Dame — 3:30 p.m., NBC

Thursday, Nov. 10
North Carolina at Duke — 7:30 p.m., ESPN

Friday, Nov. 11
Boston College at Florida State — 7:30 p.m., ESPN2

Thursday, Nov. 17
Louisville at Houston — TBA, ESPN

Saturday, Nov. 19
Virginia Tech at Notre Dame — 3:30 p.m., NBC

Friday, Nov. 25
N.C. State at North Carolina — 12 p.m. or 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN/ESPN2

Saturday, Dec. 3
ACC Championship (at Charlotte, N.C.) — 7:45 p.m. or 8 p.m., ESPN/ABC

Pitt’s new uniforms look much like their old uniforms

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 07: Nate Peterman #4 of the Pittsburgh Panthers drops back to pass in the second half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the game at Heinz Field on November 7, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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Pitt is bringing back the famed old Pitt Script uniform font. Great news, right?

Yes, it is great. But I’m not sure it’s news.

The Panthers used the old font on their helmets throughout head coach Pat Narduzzi‘s debut season of 2015.

Pittsburgh's James Conner (24) rushes ahead of the North Carolina defense in the third quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, in Chapel Hill, N.C. (AP Photo/The News & Observer, Robert Willett) MANDATORY CREDIT

On Wednesday evening, the Panthers unveiled new uniforms that look much like their old uniforms, save for a new number font and an unnecessary blue helmet.

The Pitt Script logo will look good in 2016… just as good as it looked in 2015.

(Photo credit: AP)

42 defensive players named to Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list

Ronnie Lott
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Another day, another watch list.

One day after the Rimington Award released its initial spring watch list, the Lott IMPACT Trophy has followed suit, with the award named in honor of former USC great Ronnie Lott unveiling a watch list consisting of 42 players from seven of the 10 FBS conferences.  The trophy is handed out annually to the defensive player who most represents the qualities of the honor’s namesake – Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity.

Last year’s winner was Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib.

Alabama is the only team with three players on the list. Six teams placed two players each: Michigan, Stanford, TCU, Tennessee, USC and Virginia. There was also one FCS team represented — Harvard.

Conference-wise, the Big Ten paced all leagues with 10 players selected, followed by the SEC”s eight and the ACC’s seven. The Mountain West led all Group of Five conferences with two players. The only other G5 league to get an initial nod was the AAC (Houston).

Below is the complete 42-player watch list for the 2016 Lott IMPACT Trophy.

Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Sean Ahern, S, Harvard
Joey Alfieri, LB, Stanford
Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
Dante Barnett, S, Kansas State
Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Evan Berry, CB, Tennessee
Quin Blanding, S, Virginia
Ben Boulware, LB, Clemson
Riley Bullough, LB, Michigan State
Jason Cabinda, LB, Penn State
Josh Carraway, DE, TCU
Jack Cichy, LB, Wisconsin
Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Dylan Haines, S, Texas
Charles Harris, DL, Missouri
Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC
Eddie Jackson, S, Alabama
Derwin James, S, Florida State
Joshua Kalu, CB, Nebraska
Andrew King, LB, Army
Desmond King, S, Iowa
Micah Kiser, LB, Virginia
Jourdan Lewis CB, Michigan
William Likely, CB, Maryland
Dallas Lloyd, S, Stanford
Cameron Malveaux, DE, Houston
James McFarland, DE, TCU
Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State
Viliami Moeakiola, LB, Arizona State
Calvin Munson, LB, San Diego State
Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
Cameron Smith, LB, USC
Arrion Springs, DB, Oregon
Weston Steelhammer, S, Air Force
M.J. Stewart, CB, North Carolina
Jordan Thomas, CB, Oklahoma
Drue Tranquill, S, Notre Dame
Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern
Jordan Whitehead, DB, Pitt
Tim Williams, LB, Alabama
A.J. Wolf, DL, Duke

57 centers named to Rimington Award spring watch list

AJ McCarron, Ryan Kelly
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You know how I know we’re getting closer to the start of a new season?  The first watch list of the offseason has arrived.

The first for that honor this year is the Rimington Award, which on Tuesday released its spring watch list that is 57 players strong.  The Rimington Award, named in honor of former Nebraska standout Dave Rimington, is presented annually to the top center in the nation and is determined by the consensus All-American center pick from three existing All-America teams — Walter Camp. Sporting News and FWAA.

None of the finalists for the 2015 award, won by Alabama’s Ryan Kelly, are included on this year’s initial watch list as all three have since moved on with expired eligibility.

The ACC and SEC pace all conferences with eight watch listers apiece, followed by the AAC and Big 12 with seven each.  The Big Ten placed six, while the Pac-12’s three was the least of all of the Power Five programs.

All 10 of the FBS leagues, plus one independent (Notre Dame), are represented on the spring watch list, the full roster of which appears below.

AAC
Deyshawn Bond, Cincinnati, senior
Ryan Crozier, UConn, redshirt sophomore
Will Noble, Houston, sophomore
Drew Kyser, Memphis, sophomore
Evan Brown, SMU, junior
Brendan McGowan, Temple, redshirt senior
Chandler Miller, Tulsa, sophomore

ACC
Jay Guillermo, Clemson, senior
Alec Eberle, Florida State, redshirt sophomore
Freddie Burden, Georgia Tech, redshirt senior
Nicholas Linder, Miami, junior
Lucas Crowley, North Carolina, senior
Alex Officer, Pittsburgh, redshirt junior
Jason Emerich, Syracuse, redshirt senior
Jackson Matteo, Virginia, senior

BIG TEN
Joe Spencer, Illinois, senior
Sean Welsh, Iowa, junior
Brendan Moore, Maryland, sophomore
Mason Cole, Michigan, junior
Dylan Utter, Nebraska, senior
Michael Dieter, Wisconsin, sophomore

BIG 12
Kyle Fuller, Baylor, senior
Dalton Risner, Kansas State, sophomore
Jonathan Alvarez, Oklahoma, junior
Brad Lundblade, Oklahoma State, junior
Austin Schlottman, TCU, junior
Tony Morales, Texas Tech, senior
Tyler Orlosky, West Virginia, redshirt senior

CONFERENCE USA
Michael Montero, FIU, senior
Dillon DeBoer, FAU, redshirt senior
Daniel Stephens, Middle Tennessee State, senior
Nick Clarke, Old Dominion, sophomore
Cameron Tom, Southern Miss, senior
Max Halpin, Western Kentucky, redshirt senior

MAC
Tim McAuliffe, Bowling Green redshirt junior
James O’Hagan, Buffalo, sophomore

MOUNTAIN WEST
Jake Bennett, Colorado State, junior
Asotui Eli, Hawaii, redshirt sophomore
Nathan Goltry, Nevada, senior
Arthur Flores, San Diego State, senior
Austin Stephens, Utah State, senior

PAC-12
Toa, Lobendahn, USC, junior
Coleman Shelton, Washington, junior
Riley Sorenson, Washington State, senior

SEC
Frank Ragnow, Arkansas, junior
Brandon Kublanow, Georgia, senior
Jon Toth, Kentucky, senior
Ethan Pocic, LSU, senior
Jamaal Clayborn, Mississippi State, senior
Robert Conyers, Ole Miss, senior
Alan Knott, South Carolina, redshirt junior
Coleman Thomas, Tennessee, junior

SUN BELT
Devin Mondie, Arkansas State, senior
Andy Kwon, Georgia Southern, senior
Gabe Mobley, Georgia State, sophomore
Steve Matlock, Idaho, senior

INDEPENDENTS
Sam Mustipher, Notre Dame, junior