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Donnel Pumphrey helps South team win Senior Bowl

Four rushes, two catches and four punt returns make Pumphrey the second most productive player on the winning all-star South team.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl
Donnel Pumphrey (19) runs past North squad inside linebacker Haason Reddick of Temple (57) 
Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 Reese’s Senior Bowl is the final proving ground for this year’s graduating NCAA football all-stars to shine before entering the NFL Draft. Every player in attendance is exceptional, and every player is under the watchful eyes of the NFL. In this kind of venue, the best of the best emerge.

San Diego State’s own Donnel Pumphrey earned a starting position as running back for the South team, and helped them pull off a 16-15 victory over the North at the Senior Bowl Saturday in Mobile, Ala.

Pumphrey rushed four times for 23 yards (5.8 avg.), while adding two catches for 15 yards (7.5 avg.) and made four punt returns for 44 yards (11.0 avg.). Pumphrey’s 82 all-purpose yards were the second most on the South squad.

Last year, Pumphrey rushed 349 times for 2,133 yards (6.1 avg.) (10th in NCAA FBS single-season history) with 17 touchdowns on the season, while adding a team-high-tying 27 catches for 231 yards. Pumphrey set an NCAA FBS record with 6,405 rushing yards over his career. He also finished fifth in NCAA FBS history in all-purpose yards (7,515), tied for eighth in overall touchdowns (67) and ninth in rushing touchdowns (62). But, according to some writers, he still has . . . wait for it . . . a lot to prove.

Two other Aztecs were expected to play in the Senior Bowl, but did not. Damontae Kazee (San Bernardino, Calif.), stood out well in practice according to NFL scouts, but did not play in the game. Nico Siragusa (Chula Vista, Calif.) was unable to play due to a dislocated thumb.

San Diego State ended its season with a bang after winning a second straight Mountain West title by way of a 27-24 win over Wyoming on Dec. 3 in Laramie, Wyo., and then disassembling the University of Houston, 34-10, in the Las Vegas Bowl for its second consecutive bowl win. The Aztecs (11-3) tied a program record with 11 victories and finished the season ranked 25th in both the AP Top 25 poll and Amway Coaches Poll.

For those sports writers who suggested Donnel Pumphrey still had something to prove going into the Senior Bowl: Pumphrey produced. Facts are stubborn. They don’t change. It’s high time to show some respect to Donnel Pumphrey.