Saying he "wasn't happy" at MSU, the redshirt freshman tailback has left the team. He informed coaches on Thursday, two days after his last practice with the team, and the team announced it Friday morning.
Conner, citing "personal problems," said he will transfer to Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Wesson, which puts him closer to his 2-year-old son in Monroe, La.
"I got to the point where I wasn't happy," said Conner, who prepped at Ouachita Parish High School. "I just decided to leave before I (became) a cancer to the team and I bring everybody else down. I feel that before I hurt the team, I should leave."
Conner suffered a knee injury in the spring and took a tumble down the depth chart during preseason camp, which finishes up its second week today. Conner said playing time was not a factor in his decision.
His high school coach, John Carr, told the Monroe News-Star that Mullen's schemes might not have fit Conner.
"His style is more of a downhill runner," Carr said. "He just feels like it's not a fit for him, and he wanted to leave early enough to still have the option to play Division I football."
Conner told the Journal, "I feel I did what was best for me."
As has been noted many times this offseason, MSU is trying to replace Anthony Dixon, the school's all-time leading rusher. The Bulldogs must now try to do so with four scholarship tailbacks: junior college transfer Vick Ballard, junior Robert Elliott, true freshman Nick Griffin and redshirt freshman LaDarius Perkins.
Coaches don't think Conner's loss will do too much damage to the position's depth.
"It'll be fine," head coach Dan Mullen said. "We'll just rotate the four guys that are there. We were going to rotate backs anyway probably this year, so I don't think it really means much to us."
There has been no clear-cut leader for the starting job. Ballard, Elliott and Perkins have all taken first-team snaps. All are well-steeped in the offense, with Ballard having enrolled in January and Elliott being the only tailback with SEC game experience.
As for Perkins, he has shown promise as a speedy change-of-pace player.
Running backs coach Greg Knox said there is no real pecking order right now, and he won't try to start establishing one until after MSU's first full scrimmage, scheduled for next Friday. But he likes the depth, even with Conner gone.
"They all are very versatile," Knox said. "They all have gotten better with their blocking. They've always been good runners, or they wouldn't be here."
Conner's departure means Griffin, a 5-foot-11, 195-pounder from Perry Central, could wind up playing this year. Before Conner left, a redshirt year seemed inevitable.
"If he's ready, we'll play him," said Mullen.
Elliott, an Okolona product, insists the tailback competition is a friendly one.
"We're all real cool with each other, we've got real good chemistry with each other," he said. "Some plays I block for Vick, some plays he blocks for me."
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or email@example.com.