“Do You Know How Good He Is”?
It’s the biggest game of the season, maybe the biggest game in years for San Diego State…this Saturday afternoon matchup in Laramie, against the Wyoming Cowboys.
The Aztecs are (9-1)…ranked 24th in the nation. They have won 19-of their last 20-games.
At stake is the chance to climb into the College Football Rankings, host the Mountain West Championship game, and beat Boise State.
If all that happens, a win over the Cowboys, then the Broncos in the title game, SDSU could be line for a New Year’s Day Bowl game. Can you say Cotton Bowl? Do you know that is a 7M-payday?
It also provides the national exposure for running back DJ Pumphrey, who stars before empty seats, on late night TV games no-one ever watches.
Pumphrey will go over 1800-yards rushing on his first couple of carries this weekend. He is going to crack the 2,000-yard all purpose yardage barrier this weekend too.
Last night, he was nominated as a finalist for the Doak Walker Award. He is a finalist for the Maxwell Award. One is for being the best running back in the country, the other for being the best college footblal player in the country.
You know what’s missing right now with all this going on? The buzz. Not here on campus. Not in this city. Not nationwide.
I was the Voice of the Aztecs when Marshall Faulk lifted that program on his shoulders, and exploded down the sidelines for 3-fabulous years of big plays.
He never garnered many Heisman votes. His team never won a WAC title in his stay at SDSU. They never go to a big bowl game either, visiting the the Freedom Bowl in Anaheim as their prize.
Yes he had a brilliant NFL career, one that landed him in the Hall of Fame.
But there was buzz around Faulk all 3-years. It might have been because SDSU played big time teams like the 31-31 tie with UCLA…the shootout loss to USC….the wild games with the Miami Hurricanes…and the 51-51 tie with Ty Detmer and BYU.
None of that glitz surrounds the accomplishments of Pumphrey, and it’s hard to understand why.
The town, the alumni, just haven’t wrapped their arms around the Aztecs star, who runs over people, runs away from people, makes people miss, every Saturday he plays.
His NFL career probably sees him as a specialist, a 3rd down back, maybe a kick-punt returner. Nothing wrong with that.
His toughness, at 170-pounds is amazing. Fearless running tackle to tackle. Gifted to make people miss. Athletic with an extra gear once he gets to the second level. Relentless wanting the ball in the backfield, and in the passing game. Tough as nails. Heart bigger than he is.
But in an era where there are so many games on TV, and so much exposure for players like Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette, there just isn’t the following for Pumphrey.
Somehow the marketing of DJ has fallen short. A big banner hangs atop the dormitory tower at the top of the hill at 55th and Montezuma. But that’s the extent of the publicity. ESPN did a feature package on him last weekend, but that was a 1-time shot.
Unless you pay a special fee to get the CBS-Sports Network, most of America won’t know about the Pumphrey-Brian Hill showdown on Saturday in Laramie either.
Saturday will be big in Laramie. 2-weeks from Saturday, at the Heisman Trophy presentation, that should be big too.
For all the thrills this kid has provided, you hope he gets an invite to sit at the podium in New York to enjoy the moment.
You just wish America could see the greatness and the humbleness of a special young college player. You wish this city would understand what the kid wearing #19 has accomplished.
You wish someone had the vision and the resources, to put together a ‘video package’ on Pumphrey, that would wind up at CBS-NBC-ABC-Fox and all the other TV players covering Saturday college football. His highlites need to be on more than just “Go Aztecs.com”.
He should go down as the greatest Aztecs player of all time, or at least stand alongside Faulk, just as he does in the record book.
He’s so good. I know it. The coaches do. His teammates do. Very few others do, and that is a shame, for someone who is so good in this game.