Aztec Great Pumphrey Returns to Football Program As Graduate Assistant Coach

San Diego State’s (19) Donnel Pumphrey (RB) accepts the Most Valuable Player award on December 17, 2016 at the Las Vegas Bowl. The Aztecs defeated the University of Houston Cougars 34-10. (Photo by Marc Sanchez/Icon Sportswire)

Former San Diego State great and the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher Donnel Pumphrey has joined the football staff as a graduate assistant coach.

Head coach Brady Hoke made the announcement this week that Pumphrey, 27, will assist with the team’s defense, ahead of the start of fall camp on Friday.

“I think the quality of the man, and the experiences that he has had, I think would be really, really great for those guys he’s going to work with,” Hoke said.

The two-time conference Offensive Player of the Year starred with the Aztecs from 2013-16, helping the program to a 37-17 record, back-to-back Mountain West titles in 2015 and 2016 and four bowl appearances.

He played in all 54 games over that span and finished his career with a NCAA FBS-best 6,405 rushing yards, while also leaving college ranked fifth in all-purpose yards (7,515), tied for eighth in overall touchdowns (67) and ninth in rushing touchdowns (62).

Grad School here I come Who would’ve thought I’d pursue my masters

— Donnel Pumphrey Jr. (@Pumphrey6K) July 29, 2022

Pumphrey, also a three-time first-team all-MW pick and three-time SDSU most valuable player, finished his career as the only player in NCAA FBS history with at least 5,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards.

He also holds San Diego State career records in all-purpose yards, 100-yard rushing games (33), overall touchdowns, rushing touchdowns, overall points (402) and rushing attempts (1,059). As a senior, Pumphrey rushed for a then school-record 2,133 yards and 17 touchdowns en route to finishing in a tie for 10th in the Heisman Trophy voting.

The first-team All-America selection by Walter Camp and Sports Illustrated – and a second-team All-America pick by Associated Press, AFCA, USA Today and the Sporting News – was selected in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.

He missed his rookie season due to injury, and the Eagles waived him the next year. He bounced from the Detroit Lions and back to the Eagles before becoming a free agent in 2019.

He shifted to the XFL that year and played regularly for the DC Defenders, but the league faltered and failed early in the pandemic (though a relaunch is planned by new owners, including actor Dwayne Johnson).

SDSU finished with a school-record 12 victories last season, while playing all 14 of its games away from its own market due to Mission Valley stadium construction. The team finished the 2021 season ranked 25th in the final AP Top 25 poll.  SDSU opens Snapdragon Stadium against Arizona on Sept. 3. Football season tickets remain on sale. Single-game tickets for the seven Aztec home games go on sale for the general public on Aug. 15.