Duke Now

Duke’s David Cutcliffe reaches out to injured Pitt RB James Conner

When Pittsburgh running back James Conner, the reigning ACC Player of the Year, suffered a season-ending MCL tear in the Panthers’ opening game, David Cutcliffe felt pain for him.

So, Cutcliffe, 60, decided to send Conner and old-fashioned letter wishing him well.

Tuesday morning, Conner tweeted a picture of the letter with the caption, “Thank you coach @DavidCutcliffe and @Duke_FB for the well wishes! Means a lot I appreciate it!”

The letter read, “Dear James, I wanted to send you a quick note to say all of us here at Duke were saddened to hear about your injury. You are a great competitor and we wish you the best of luck with your recovery! Take care! Sincerely, David Cutcliffe, Head Football Coach.”

In pen, Cutcliffe signed “Coach Cut” and added, “I admire your spirit and talent.”

Conner was a huge loss for the Pitt offense, as he led the ACC with 1,765 rushing yards last season (with an average of 5.92 yards per carry). In his two career games against Duke, Conner rushed for 173 yards in the 2013 58-55 Pitt win and 263(!) yards last year as the Blue Devils won 51-48 in double overtime at Pitt.

“I just have great respect for James Conner as a player. Who wouldn't?” Cutcliffe said Tuesday. “When you've been on the sideline and see how he plays. It's not just talent. It's never just talent. The guy is relentless as a football player.

“I just felt a sick feeling in my stomach when I heard he hurt his knee, so I just wrote him a little note of encouragement. I would have never thought it would become public, but I forget we're in the era of social media.”

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