Aztecs former star running back Donnel Pumphrey reaches Super Bowl as rookie, but will watch from the sidelines.
Former Aztec and Philadelphia Eagles injured reserve Donnel Pumphrey is in Minnesota to support his team at Super Bowl LII
“The harder I work, the luckier I get.”
This may have been the observation of a Chinese warrior defeating the enemy in battle under the command of Sun Tsu during the 5th century BC; or perhaps a realization of a miner striking gold in the hills of Auburn, California during the 1850’s. It could also be the 2018 observation former Aztecs football star and NCAA all-time rushing leader Donnel Pumphrey. Donnel has, in his NFL rookie year, made it to Superbowl LII.
For the first time in his life, Donnel Pumphrey is on the sidelines as an injured reserve. He tore his hamstring in September, and this ended his first season before it even started. It also put him in a position to observe Eagles running backs in NFL action. He has had the opportunity to observe running back teammate Darren Sproles, who is a surprising three inches shorter than the 5’9″ Pumphrey.
A “time out” might prove in the long run to be a profound blessing for Pumphrey, who was brought onto the program to act both as a playmaker for rising star quarterback Carson Wentz, and to likely succeed the 34-year-old Sproles as he moves closer toward retirement.
Pumphrey was recently outspoken about his condition. “Physically I’m great. I’m 100% healed up and ready to attack next year. I definitely never thought I’d be here. It’s something you dream of and just to be here in the first year, it’s a blessing.”
Pumphrey has spent a lot of time in the meeting room with Duce Staley, the Eagles’ running backs coach, and his fellow running backs. He’s had the opportunity to soak in their strategies and get a better sense of NFL play. Pumphrey suggests his football IQ is “unreal right now.”
There’s a significant possibility that a healthy Donnel Pumphrey will suit up next fall for the “defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles,” if his teammates can exert the same kind of dominance we all saw during their rout of a very formidable Minnesota Vikings.
And maybe, just maybe, Donnel will exhibit the kind of play that made him such a standout in NCAA ball, but with another fifteen pounds of muscle and the benefit of shared knowledge from Sproles who has had a successful NFL career even in light of his size.
Donnel Pumphrey’s brand of good luck- the kind that comes from putting in hard work and tireless effort day after day- might just grant him the good fortune of helping his team reach more Super Bowl’s in the years to come.
Watch for Pumphrey returning punts and playing as a back up running back for the Eagles next season.