How do you know when you've reached football immortality? If, one day, you find yourself standing next to a bust of you, posing for a photograph in the Pro Football Hall of Fame donning a yellow blazer and corsage -- you have officially arrived.
Ask anybody who has attended San Diego State in the past twenty years who the most successful Aztec football player would be, and the unanimous reply is Marshall Faulk. He was flawless, and he decimated every school record in his way. He then moved on to the NFL drafted by the Indianapolis Colts, and afterward played for the St. Louis Rams, where he achieved Super Bowl victory.
Marshall Faulk was a running back who could catch as well as he could rush. He remains the only NFL player to amass 12,000 yards rushing and 6,000 yards receiving. In 2011, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and today he is a successful football analyst for NFL Total Access, Thursday Night Football and NFL GameDay Morning. Ladies and gentlemen: that is a successful career.
Today, San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey has within his grasp the ability to surpass seven of Marshall Faulk's SDSU football records. Yes, SEVEN. Pumphrey is poised to go even further than Faulk. If Pumphrey continues at his pace, Aztec fans will witness a new high water mark for San Diego State football.
Last Thursday, Pumphrey got a real gut check. Marshall Faulk visited campus specifically to get together with the man who is on the verge of surpassing several SDSU records Faulk set while with the Aztecs from 1991-93. Faulk visited him as a show of strong support.
The pair met in the SDSU Hall of Fame area inside the Fowler Athletics Center where Faulk's uniform is encased for the ages. Rumor had it, Donnell Pumphrey was very nervous about meeting Faulk. The pair had met only briefly before, shortly before the Aztecs took the field for last year's Mountain West Championship Game against Air Force.
This meeting was much more in depth, as the two got to know each other.
"I got to ask him a lot of different questions about his perspective of the running back spot and get some knowledge of different things that I need to know as far as going to the next level," Pumphrey said via the San Diego Union-Tribune. "He gave me a lot of advice about the process of breaking his record."
Pumphrey has the SDSU career rushing yards, career rushing and overall touchdowns, career 100-yard games and career all-purpose yards marks all well within his sights this season. The most notable mark is career rushing yards.
Pumphrey has 4,272 career rushing yards, which ranks 74th on the NCAA's all-time list. That is just 317 away from the 4,589 yards accumulated by Faulk, who ranks 44th all-time in the category. Both players averaged 6.0 yards per carry during their careers. Pumphrey said Faulk took no issue with slipping to No. 2 in the SDSU books. Pumphrey said, "He told me records are meant to be broken."
"It's really neat that Marshall would take the time out to come back and that we have a running back that has a chance to break his records," SDSU head coach Rocky Long said.
If he gets off to a strong start in the season opener Sept. 3 against New Hampshire, then Pumphrey could be in position to get the rushing record at home the following week in a Sept. 10 game against Cal.
Pumphrey does point out that he has the benefit of a fourth year, while Faulk was drafted by the Colts after his third year. "It just happened to be that he was here for three years and I'm here on my fourth year, able to pursue him."
While he may pass Marshall Faulk's SDSU records, Donnel Pumphrey will always look up to him. After all, Faulk didn't ONLY take SDSU to new heights- he took the entire NFL to new heights, and has earned his place among the greatest to ever play the game.
Ted McGovern | www.mwcconnection.com | August 19, 2016