Senior Bowl Spotlight: Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State University
Height: 5’ 8 ¼”
Weight: 169 lbs
Hands: 8 ¼”
Arm: 28 ⅛”
Wing: 67 ⅜”
40 yard dash: 4.43 (range)
NFL Comparison: Giovani Bernard, Danny Woodhead
Scouting Notes: On paper, Pumphrey is an ideal running back. In fact, one could say he IS the ideal if you’re just looking at his stats. In his fourth and final year at San Diego State, Pumphrey eclipsed Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne’s record of 6,397 rushing yards to take sole possession of the NCAA all-time rushing record (6,405 yards). Yes, I’m aware they didn’t include bowl games in Dayne’s day, but the statistic is remarkable nonetheless. A lazy analysis of the situation might lead you to the conclusion that Pumphrey used his diminutive stature to squeeze out big plays on relatively few carries to get the record, but it just wasn’t so. Pumphrey carried the ball a lot (1,059 carries – the FBS record is 1,215), and though his average over that span is high (6.1 YPC), there were 25 players with higher yards per carry in 2016. Pumphrey makes his hay by remaining patient and waiting for his holes before jutting through and often heading to the edge where he has a better chance of evading tacklers. Pumphrey won’t break many tackles, but he can dodge virtually any one on one defender with his quick feet and lateral agility, and once he gets to the second level it’s a done deal. Surprisingly, he wasn’t used in the passing game much in college, and he didn’t return kicks, but Pumphrey has good, if small, hands. He also makes for an aggressive if not always effective blocker. The plus side is that he is already pretty low on linemen so he doesn’t have to lower his pads too much to get them off balance.
Fantasy Outlook: Pumphrey may be tiny, but he was the primary ball carrier at a major football program for four years, and he came away largely unscathed. He won’t play that role in the NFL though, and his lack of kick return experience will hurt him. Pumphrey is too dynamic a potential weapon to go ignored for long though, and his reputation will precede him. Some of the rep won’t be positive, as he’s been tabbed as overconfident and arrogant at times, though I would find it hard not to be as a sub-160-pound player at a competitive school. All things considered I expect him to get nabbed on Day 3. Fantasy wise, Pumphrey has the makings of a boom-or-bust flex player, who is just as likely to score 15+ points in a given week as he is to get a goose egg. If he picks up special teams action I might bump him up a bit, but as is he’s a wait and see player outside of deeper dynasty leagues. Until we know the NFL team situation he falls to, we’re not comfortable selecting Pumphrey until the final round of your rookie draft as a low-floor flier.
Two-time Hon. Mention Sports Illustrated All-American (2014-15)
2015 Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year
Two-time First-Team All-Mountain West (2014-15)
MW Offensive Player of the Week
– Nov. 2, 2015 for game at CSU
– Oct. 12, 2015 for game at Hawai`i
– Oct. 13, 2014 for game at UNM
– Sept. 29, 2014 for game vs. UNLV
Two-time SDSU Most Valuable Player (2014-15)
Two-time SDSU Outstanding Offensive Player of the Year (2014-15)
2013 SDSU Outstanding Freshman Award
An All-America and Mountain West Player-of-the-Year candidate once again … Shifty, speedy back who is one of the top athletes on the entire West Coast … Can go outside and inside, and is a dangerous threat to break free for the long run … Has great hands … Is not afraid of contact … Can also return punts and kicks if needed … Saw plenty of playing time in the backfield as a true freshman in 2013, and has been the starter in each of the last 27 games … SDSU is 21-7 over his career when he scores at least one rushing touchdown and 18-4 when he reaches 100 rushing yards … Has 22 career 100-yard rushing games, which ranks second all-time at San Diego State and in Mountain West history, in just 40 career games … Has 12 career games with multiple rushing touchdowns and 14 overall with multiple scores … Has 4,272 yards over his career, which is the second most in school history, trailing only Marshall Faulk (4,589 from 1991-93), and second in Mountain West history, trailing only New Mexico’s DonTrell Moore (4,973 from 2002-05) … Also is second all-time at SDSU in overall touchdowns (50), rushing touchdowns (45) and all-purpose yards (5,145) … Among active FBS players, Pumphrey leads the country in rushing yards (4,272) and all-purpose yards (5,145).