Pumphrey can set rush­ing record

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By The As­so­ci­ated Press

las ve­gas» When Don­nel Pumphrey ar­rived at San Diego State from Las Ve­gas, even head coach Rocky Long was con­cerned he was too small to play run­ning back.

Re­turn­ing home for his fi­nal col­lege game in the Las Ve­gas Bowl against Hous­ton on Satur­day, Pumphrey has more than put those doubts to rest as he needs 108 yards to pass Wis­con­sin’s Ron Dayne for most ca­reer rush­ing yards in NCAA his­tory.

“We don’t think about his size any­more be­cause he’s a big-time player,” Long said.

Pumphrey is listed at 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, lead­ing Aztecs of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Jeff Hor­ton to joke that “two Pumphs would equal one Dayne.” Hor­ton would know, hav­ing coached the bruis­ing Dayne dur­ing his Heis­man Tro­phy-win­ning se­nior sea­son in 1999 as he fin­ished with 6,397 ca­reer yards rush­ing, although the NCAA did not in­clude statis­tics from bowl games at the time.

Hor­ton was hop­ing to get in touch with Dayne by phone this week and have him speak to Pumphrey. The two most pro­lific rush­ers in the sport might not share sim­i­lar builds, Hor­ton said, but have the same com­pet­i­tive fire.

“A lot of run­ning backs aren’t my size,” Pumphrey said. “That’s why I try to play with a chip on my shoul­der and play as big as pos­si­ble. I try to play like I’m 6-1, 240 or what­not. That’s just how my game is.”

Pumphrey has rushed for 6,290 yards in four sea­sons, in­clud­ing a school sin­gle-sea­son record 2,018 yards to lead SDSU (10-3) to its sec­ond con­sec­u­tive con­fer­ence ti­tle. He needs 110 yards to have one of the 10 most-pro­duc­tive rush­ing sea­sons in col­lege foot­ball, and is the only FBS player with 5,000 yards rush­ing and 1,000 yards re­ceiv­ing in his ca­reer.

But Pumphrey seems en­tirely non­plussed by what he has ac­com­plished sta­tis­ti­cally and what he can still do, leav­ing his team­mates to tout the record.

“The team wants it more than him,” run­ning back Rashaad Penny said.

How­ever, the Cougars (9-3) have a rush de­fense ranked No. 3 in the na­tion and won’t con­cede the record in their first game un­der new head coach Ma­jor Ap­ple­white. Hous­ton held Big 12 cham­pion Ok­la­homa to just 70 yards rush­ing and a Louisville of­fense with Heis­man win­ner La­mar Jack­son to 101 yards on the ground.

Fresh­man de­fen­sive line­man Ed Oliver could not be stopped in those games, with five tack­les for loss, four sacks and a forced fum­ble in the two mar­quee wins.

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