Donnel Pumphrey was born on December sixth, 1994 in Las Vegas Nevada. He remained there to attend Canyon Springs High School and as a senior, was awarded the Gatorade High School Football Player of the Year after rushing for 1,461 yards and 19 touchdowns. By the end of his senior season, he logged 4,152 yards and 49 touchdowns and was named a three-star recruit by Rivals.com and ESPN.com
As a San Diego State freshman in 2013, Pumphrey played in all 13 games, making one start. He finished second on the team with 752 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Pumphrey became the starter his sophomore season and played in all 13 games finishing with 1,876 yards and 20 touchdowns. The rushing yards broke the school record held by George Jones in 1995 and were third overall in the nation behind Melvin Gordon and Tevin Coleman. Last season, he went on to break the 2,000-yard rushing plateau (2,018) and while playing in the Las Vegas Bowl, broke Ron Dayne’s all-time NCAA Division I FBS lead in career rushing yards
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Statistics from sports-reference.com.
Donnel Pumphrey’s Player Profiler page shows the athlete stands at 5’8” and weighs 176 pounds. He may not have the type of size for the NFL (or even high school ball), but that has never stopped this athlete in achieving anything. Obviously, being as small as he is, his BMI chart reading is very low. The higher the number, the sturdier he is and Pumphrey comes in at 26.8, landing in just the second percentile.
However, San Diego State relied on him a lot during the season. As you can see, his college dominator falls in the 97th percentile. The score is a representation of how many yards and touchdowns are produced by the individual player on the team. The Aztecs ran him as though he was the only one on the offensive side of the ball.
Pumphrey’s college yards per carry score is of high value. The grade here is a mixture of the athletes best season with his final one. With him falling in the 84th percentile, we can see that he just kept getting better each season. His third asset, and most likely his biggest, is his quickness. His 40-yard dash time clocked at 4.48 seconds put him in the 81st percentile.
He did not test well in two areas: burst and speed score. The burst shows how well an athlete explodes by summing up the player’s vertical jump height and broad jump distance. The score is reliant on giving both exercises an equal amount of weight. A score of 130 is in the elite range, but Pumphrey scored just 115.5 putting him in the 31st percentile. His vert just went 33 ½” while his broad was 117”. His speed score was even worse. This category compares how fast a player runs to the weight he carries. Therefore, he should have run a lot faster due to his 176 pounds.
Looking at his other body dimensions via Mock Draftable, Pumphrey has Donald Trump type hand size (8 ½”) which places him just in the fifth percentile. Hand size is important for running backs to make catches easier, wrestle with defenders and be able to block. Pumphrey has shown the capability as a receiver as he caught 22 or more passes in each season as an Aztec.
His arm length is not much better (29”) and places him in the third percentile. Like hands, arm length helps both in the passing game and blocking. His arm length will limit his catching radius, and I just don’t see him doing much blocking at the NFL level. As far as strength goes, he was only able to do five reps, which is the bottom of the barrel.
However, Donnel Pumphrey’s production is no joke. He is decisive and has a push button turbo boost. He can and will out-race a good chunk of defenders to and around the edge. With great vision, he moves about lanes in the open field like a Ferrari in a Formula One race. Pumphrey’s jump cuts are truly outstanding, and he maintains a protective distance from linemen.
He puts a chorus of moves together with sharp cutbacks and start-and-stop action. He will spin out of danger and keep his balance to remain upright. Pumphrey excels on the outside and is nearly invisible in the open field after the catch. He will make defenders look foolish as they try to bring him down. According to PFF, he is the only player to eclipse 200 missed tackles forced as a runner over the past three seasons combined.
Pumphrey has the courage to bang it up the middle and is an excellent weapon out of the backfield. He runs good routes and can separate himself from the defense. He uses his offensive line well and places himself in crevices that defenses can’t see.
Even though many are worried about his durability, PFF states that from 2014 to 2016, he had 19-plus touches in 38 of his 41 games and averaged 24.8 touches per game and had over 1,150 career touches. Also, he will attempt to block. This guy is not afraid of anything.
It is a given that Pumphrey will never be a bell cow running back. Even though he is willing, a team will not throw him out there to block on third down. He could chip, but there will be a cloud of dust left of his poor soul if he tried to square up a linebacker. Pumphrey does not have the strength to take tacklers head on and falling forward is not going to happen unless the defender takes a bad angle. He will not hit the home run and can get brought down from behind.
Pumphrey could be used as a change-of-pace back, a third-down back, or a chess piece to move around the offense to create mismatches. He also has not faced elite competition and will use his body to catch instead of his hands.
When looking to draft him, he is an obvious fit for PPR leagues and someone to stay away from in standard. More than likely, Pumphrey will be scattered everywhere on the field. Used as a third-down back, a change-of-pace or a decoy to mess with the minds of the defense, he is going to be on the field. DLF has him going as the 51st player off the board with an ADP of 36. In the dynasty ADP, he is not selected, but I would take him over players such as Darren Sproles at 236 or Darren McFadden at 247.