Donnell Pumphrey has had a disappointing preseason. All the hype that surrounded him has diminished and led people to believe that Pumphrey will be cut. This is why it won’t happen.
As Eagle fans should know by now, Pumphrey is the NCAA all-time leading rusher. Pumphrey was a bottle of fire at San Diego State, there hasn’t been a player as amazing as Pumphrey since NFL hall of fame running back Marshall Faulk. College isn’t where the excitement started. Standing at just 5’9, 180 lbs, he has always been a small running back and as we all know the odds for Small players at his position is stacked against them. A 3 star recruit, Pumphrey played for Canyon high school in North Las Vegas, Nevada rushing for a career total of 4,152 yards and 49 touchdowns while being named “Gatorade high school football player of the year” in his senior year.
Pumphrey’s lack of size saw the odds stacked totally against him to be the running back he became, but he did. In the same recruiting class as no.4 ranked Ezekiel Elliott, no.1 ranked Alvin Kamara, and teammate no.24 ranked Wendell Smallwood, Pumprey was ranked no.48, but outshined them all.
Smallwood rushed for a combined 2,462 yards, 5.8 yards per carry and 12 rushing touchdowns. In his senior season Smallwood led the Big 12 in rushing with 1,519 yards playing for West Virginia.
Elliott totaled over 4,400 yards of total offense with 44 touchdowns, 3,961 yards were on the ground at Ohio state with 6.7 yards per carry. He rushed for 1,800 plus yards twice with a career high 23 rushing touchdowns in his senior season.
Kamara totaled almost 3500 yards of total offense with 44 touchdowns between a year at Hutchinson community college and Tennessee. he averaged 6.2 yards per carry at Tennessee and was a dangerous punt returner.
Pumphrey played 4 seasons instead of the 3 which the other mentioned running backs played but if he had played just 3 years Pumphrey would have still crushed the numbers of the other 3. Pumphrey, if you take away his amazing 2,133 yards with 17 touchdowns season, still would have a total of 4,272 career rushing yards and 45 career rushing touchdowns. Elliott, the higher drafted of the 4, had a total of 58 receptions for 449 yards 7.7 yards a carry with 1 touchdown in his college career. Pumphrey had 99 receptions with over 1,039 yards 10.9 yards per carry and 5 touchdowns.
You can take away his 231 yards receiving and 27 receptions from his senior season, do the math. Pumphrey had 7,444 total yards and 67 touchdowns for his career and by this time in the article, you know how much Elliot had. Now take away the 2,364 total yards and 17 touchdowns Pumphrey had his final season. You get the picture. So now your argument is competition. What about Marshall Faulk? No I’m not comparing him to Marshall Faulk, just simply stating that there was a hall of fame running back that went against the same competition. With all due respect, Faulk was 5’10, 211 lbs. The size of Faulk made him more accepted as a player and if Pumphrey were that size I have no question he would have been drafted in the first round instead of the fourth.
Pumphrey not only had 349 rushing attempts which was no.1 in the nation, he had two straight seasons of 300 plus attempts. None of the backs mentioned carried that type of work load, not one. In fact his 276 rushing attempts his sophomore year were only third to Elliott’s 289 and Faulk’s 300 there junior years. We are talking about a pure complete back. His faults are him getting used to the game which happens to a lot of athletes in all sports.
Pumphrey will get better with each game and especially when he is more involved in the offense which he won’t be this year because of perhaps the most dangerous and productive small back ever, Darren Sproles. Sproles will be the mentor to Pumphrey, there is no better player that will sharpen Pumphrey’s skills both mentally and physically than Sproles. The rookie’s skill set resembles Sproles and next year will be the year Pumphrey will breakout after getting his feet wet in 2017. History shows the more involved he is, the more he produces and the Eagles know that. So to all scouts, writers and Eagle fans…calm down. Once he gets started you will love Pumphrey and he will once again go against all odds.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports