Connor, you see, has survived a couple of trips to head coach Joe Paterno's dreaded doghouse for minor off-field digressions. But now that he is a senior, and with fellow linebacker and team captain Paul Posluszny off to the NFL, Connor intends to tap into the positives and negatives of his own past to help fill the leadership void.
I've been around forever, Connor said Tuesday. This is my fourth spring now, and I've been in and out of trouble with Coach Paterno. It seems like I've been through a whirlwind of all the stuff that has gone on. I think that has helped me a lot. People will listen to me because they know I've been through a lot.
Part of being a team leader is addressing issues beyond those that pop up on the football field. And during the course of a teleconference with roughly 15 reporters, Connor was asked several times about an alleged off-campus fight involving several members of the team. Local police have questioned several players, but as of this writing no charges had been filed.
It's settling itself out now, Connor said. The one thing we can't do is dwell too much on it and make it the big thing of the spring. Football is the main thing now.
Later, when asked how he felt the situation would play out, Connor said, You never know how anything is gonna go. As far as how this specific thing is, it can go any way. When you hear the stories from the guys, it's different from what you read in the papers. All I can do is try to counsel them with how to talk to Joe and the coaching staff. Anything else is out of my hands.
Has anyone been punished by the coaching staff because of the alleged incident?
No. No one is being held out, Connor said. We mix up starting lineups throughout spring, but we've done that for a couple years now.
EXTRA POINT: Despite occasionally butting heads with Paterno, Connor said he has nothing but respect for the coach. He also said Paterno is doing well physically after breaking his leg last November. He's fine. He's back to 100 percent. He's running around yelling at people, so he's good.