Donnel Pumphrey is an undersized Philadelphia Eagles running back who defied his size to become an all-time leader in rushing yards (6,405) in NCAA FBS history. The former Canyon Springs High School standout was a three-star recruit out of high school and was drafted in the fourth round (132nd overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Eagles.
Donnel Pumphrey’s Bio
The Eagles’ running back was born Donnel Laray Pumphrey Jr. on December 6, 1994, in North Las Vegas, Nevada. He got fascinated with the gridiron at the very young age of 3 and would throw the ball beside the field with his older brother and played his first game at about 5 years old. With his brother, he envisioned a career in the NFL one that would eventually become a reality. He prepped at Canyon Springs High School where he also excelled in track and field as a state runner-up in the 100 and 200 meters as a junior.
As a junior, Donnel rushed for 1,666 yards and 22 touchdowns to lead the team to its first Northeast division title. He rushed for 1,491 yards on 160 carries with 19 touchdowns in his senior year and was named the Gatorade High School Football Player of the Year for Nevada. He finished his career at that level running for 4,152 yards on 494 attempts with 49 touchdowns.
Following an impressive career, he was rated as a three-star recruit and committed to San Diego State University, the first school to give him an offer to play his collegiate career. With the Aztecs, he became the official all-time leader in rushing yards (6,405) in NCAA Division I FBS history.
He totaled 752 rushing yards and eight touchdowns while getting 234 receiving yards and two TDs as a true freshman despite starting only one of the 13 games played. However, he moved up a notch in his sophomore season starting all 13 games and recorded 1,876 yards with 20 TDs and rushed for 2,018 yards the following season.
During the 2016 Las Vegas Bowl, Donnel set an all-time NCAA Division I FBS record in career rushing yard. The validity of the record was, however, questioned by some as career statistics were not included as part of bowl games prior to 2002. If that is taken into cognizance, he would rank fourth behind Ron Dayne, Ricky Williams, and Tony Dorsett. And that would be a good spot too, you would agree.
Besides the rushing yard phenomenon, he also led the nation in rushing yards (4,272), rushing touchdowns (45) and all-purpose yards (5,145). His all-purpose yards ranked fifth (7,515), and he tied for eighth in overall TDs (67), and ninth in rushing TDs (62). He was also a candidate for Heisman and All-America Awards, as well as a Doak Walker Award finalist, a Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year Award semifinalist.
In addition, he earned All-America honors in 2015 and became the first running back voted as the Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year in consecutive seasons (2014-2015).
Donnel Pumphrey played in the 2017 Senior Bowl recording four carries for 23 rushing yards, two receptions for 15 receiving yards and returned four punts for a total of 44 yards. Pumphrey who played for the South team helping them to a 16-15 defeat of the North with his 82 all-purpose yards ranking second in the team. Following the 2017 pre-draft process, he was projected to be a fourth or fifth round pick on several platforms and was also ranked as the 14th best running back prospect in the draft.
The Philadelphia Eagles who were intrigued by his potential and versatility as a running back/slot receiver hybrid during offseason organized team activities, traded up to pick him in the fourth round, 132nd overall pick. A month after the draft, he inked a four-year deal worth $2.97 million including a signing bonus of $575,888 with the team.
During the training camp where he competed for a spot on the regular roster, he was named the fourth running back to begin the regular season behind LeGarrette Blount, Darren Sproles, and Corey Clement. During the preseason, Pumphrey recorded 26 carries for 49 yards and 13 receptions for 72 yards but did not log a snap or carry and then came the hamstring injury which saw him end up on the injured reserve subsequently leading to his missing his entire rookie season. Also, he had to sit in the sidelines as the Eagles beat the New England Patriots 41-33 to win the Super Bowl LII though the victory earned him his first Superbowl ring.
Family — Parents
The Eagles’ running back was born to Donnel Pumphrey Sr. and Regina Padua, a 4-foot-11 Filipino woman who grew up in San Diego. He is the middle child alongside an elder brother, Tyree Erskin and a younger brother.
In his senior year of high school, Donnel Pumphrey became a father. His daughter, Maliya was born on November 2, 2012. From that day onwards, everything the speedster did in football, he did for Maliya, who he said is his inspiration.
Height, Weight, Body Measurements
At 5 feet 9 inches, his height almost became a hurdle on his path to his NFL dreams but he knew what he wanted. Others thought his size would be a detriment to the running back and worried for him but obviously, it had not been. He weighs 176 lbs, the lightest in the NFL pre-draft process.
He was considered really small for a running back position which translated to a lack of offers from colleges towards the end of his high school career. His size left a chip on his shoulder but that notwithstanding, he has played big with it as much as possible. Eventually, he overcame the seeming impediment. Pumphrey did not only attend college but finished his career on a high pedestal too, excelling at college football’s highest level.
His other body measurements include an arm length that measures 29″ and a hand size of 8 1/2″.