James Conner mulling NFL decision after torn MCL

The Pittsburgh Panthers began their season receiving some unfortunate news; star running back and reigning ACC Player of the Year James Conner suffered a season-ending MCL injury in the season-opener against Youngstown State.

Conner was widely regarded as one of the top running backs in the nation, but now his future is up in the air as he decides whether to head to the NFL or return for another season at the college level.

Were Conner to stay healthy and play out the 2015 season, many believed he would have been a top 100 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

However, Conner’s main focus now appears to be solely on helping his team in any way possible.

“I greatly appreciate everyone’s support and well wishes,” Conner said in a statement released by the school, via CBS.com. “This is a temporary setback and I’m going to work even harder to bounce back. Even though I won’t be able to play this season, I’m going to be right beside my teammates and help them every way I can to have a great season.”

Last season, Conner rushed for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns.

That is some very impressive production from any running back, but for a player who runs with the style of Conner, it could cause some red flags.

Conner is now coming off of a serious knee injury and has had plenty of mileage on his body.

While it would be great to see Conner return to Pitt for another year to prove he is the player we all think he is, it may be the smart choice to forego his final years of eligibility to get the most out of whatever tred is left on his tires.

Do you think Conner should declare for the 2016 NFL Draft or return to Pittsburgh? Sound off in the comments section below.

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*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports