Six Panthers invited to NFL Scouting Combine


Pitt running back James Conner rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns in the Panthers' 42-39 victory over Penn State. Jeff Ahearn | Senior Staff Photographer

By Bayard Miller | Assistant Sports Editor

The Pitt-to-NFL pipeline continues to flow as six Panthers received invitations to the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine, a national invitational camp for players eligible for the upcoming draft.

Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi broke the news on Twitter Monday night, posting a picture of the invited players with the caption, “S/o to the 6 Pitt Panthers invited to the NFL Scouting Combine! #H2P.”

The six players invited based on their NFL potential are running back James Conner, quarterback Nathan Peterman, left tackle Adam Bisnowaty, left guard Dorian Johnson, tight end Scott Orndoff and defensive end Ejuan Price.

Conner is the highest-profile player of the bunch, not just for his on-field play but because of his well-publicized battle with cancer. Diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in December 2015, Conner continued to practice with the team through chemotherapy treatment. He was declared cancer-free in May and started all 13 games for the Panthers in 2016.

On the field, Conner scored more career touchdowns than any player in ACC history with 56. He ranks second in school history in career rushing yards with 3,733 and second in touchdowns, trailing behind only NFL Hall of Famer and 1976 Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett.

Peterman led Pitt’s most prolific offense in program history last season with his Panthers scoring 40.9 points per game. He led the ACC in pass efficiency with a 163.4 mark in 2016, beating out Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson from Louisville and two-time Heisman finalist Deshaun Watson of Clemson. His 15.43 yards per completion ranked fourth in the nation.

Bisnowaty, a two-time first-team All-ACC selection, was invited to play in the Senior Bowl this year, which is an annual postseason all-star game for departing senior football players. He started in 43 games during his Pitt career at the critical “blind side” position of left tackle.

Johnson excelled as a three-year starter at left guard and achieved first-team All-American honors for his 2016 campaign, the first Pitt offensive lineman to receive this recognition since Ruben Brown 22 years ago.

Orndoff finished with 35 receptions for 579 yards and five touchdowns in 2016, all good for second-best on the team after junior wide receiver Jester Weah. He played an instrumental role in Pitt’s upset of eventual national champion Clemson with nine catches for 128 yards and two touchdowns.

Price had the best year of his Pitt career in 2016. The sixth-year senior recorded 45 tackles, a career-high 13 sacks and ranked second nationally with 23 tackles for loss. He was a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award — given to the best defensive lineman in the country — and named a consensus second-team All-American.

The invite-only NFL Scouting Combine will take place from Feb. 28 to March 6 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.


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