When last we saw James Conner, he was running wild on the stout Bowling Green defense in Pitt's bowl game. But he was also lining up at defensive end and chasing down the quarterback, too, and it still sounds like an offense/defense option is still out there.
Conner, for his part, is still willing to suit up on defense. But if you take this quote for what it's worth, it doesn't sound as if a full-time switch is coming:
"The only ones that really talk about it are Coach Chryst and [defensive ends] Coach [John] Palermo," Conner said. "If he wants me to play defensive end, I'll do that, too, in a certain third-down package again, like I did last year."
I've gone back and forth on this so many times that it's not even funny. Pitt appears to have some depth at running back with Isaac Bennett and Rachid Ibrahim both returning and highly touted incoming freshmen Chris James and Qadree Ollison, among others. On the flipside, the defensive line is a work in progress and working to replace three of four starters with the losses of Aaron Donald, Ty Ezell, and Bryan Murphy.
If you forced my hand, I'd lean towards keeping Conner at running back since he just might have too much potential there to move on a risky switch. And if I had to guess (and judging my Conner's quote), it sounds like any defensive action he gets might be limited.
The other option is Pitt can progress with spring drills and see how the feel at their conclusion. If they believe the current guys can be adequate, maybe Conner lining up on defense isn't necessary.
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