Donnel Pumphrey: ‘I’ve Had To Prove Myself My Whole Life’

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Donnel Pumphrey gets “carded” everywhere. It’s part of the story of his life. When you’re of the small stature society, the tendency for the general public is to label them younger than they are, incapable of doing things others are able to do, pretty much discount them before they try anything.

Pumphrey did some amazing things at San Diego State, like break Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk’s rushing records and establish a new all-time NCAA Division I FBS mark for career rushing yards with 6,405 yards, breaking the previous mark set by former Overbrook, NJ star Ron Dayne (6,397).

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Pumphrey, though listed at 5-foot-8, and a mound of nachos over 170 pounds, never missed a game in college. In college, Pumphrey finished off an All-American season by leading the nation with 2,133 rushing yards on 349 carries (tied for most in FBS) and 17 scores (along with 27-231 receiving). He also captured the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year, repeating the honor he was given in 2015 for 1,653 yards rushing and scoring 17 touchdowns on 309 carries.

Pumphrey also led the Aztecs with 28 receptions, accumulating 416 yards and three scores. Pumphrey set a school record with 1,867 yards while scoring 20 times as a sophomore, earning the first of three first-team All-Mountain West accolades. As a freshman, he only started one game but still had 256 totes for 1,244 yards and 15 touchdowns (with 22-234, two TD receiving).

His knock, according to one NFL scout, “The size is going to be the only concern.” But the same scout also said, “I don’t care how big he is, he’s a good player. Look, he’s tiny so you can’t take him too early because there’s risk in putting a skinny runner out there. You have to have an offense that makes sense for him but everyone I talk to on the road likes the talent.”

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The biggest point is that Pumphrey believes in himself.

“There is always that edge there, and I’ve done it my whole life, from the time I was in high school, to the time I got into college after being told I can’t play D-I ball,” said Pumphrey, a ‘yes sir, no sir’ kind of guy who is highly intelligent. “It motivates me. I’ve had to prove myself my whole life that I can do it. I know when to get down, when to make guys miss, and my offensive line has always done a great job.

“I didn’t play slot in college, but they tried me out there today (with the Eagles during rookie mini-camp). I feel comfortable. Whatever is going to help play on Sundays, I look forward to playing any role. I was trying different stuff in practice, and I know that I’ll have to play special teams.

“I want to take advantage of these opportunities. I weighed 176 yesterday, and I played at around 176, 177 in college. That really being just a college student, eating college food, but now, we have real nutritionists and I’ll be able to play 180, 185 pounds. The Eagles want me at around 180, 185 pounds. I don’t ask any questions (about being able to play three downs because of his size). I just show them and do what I can.”

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