The Pumphrey years at SDSU: A retrospective in tweet form


52 months ago, Donnel Pumphrey pulled out his DROID RAZR MAXX and composed the following message.

Zero people favorited this tweet at the time. Feel free to go back and like it now, though. I’ll wait.

Two days from now, Donnel Pumphrey will suit up in a San Diego State uniform for the final time as his Aztecs face the Houston Cougars in the Las Vegas Bowl. It will be game number 53 for the senior who sits at 6,290 yards rushing (more than 3 1/2 miles, if clichéd visualizations are your thing), putting him just 107 yards behind the official* all-time NCAA leading rusher Ron Dayne (835 behind in the complete rushing list).

I hope like hell he gets the official* record because, to state the obvious, it’s hella cool to see the Aztecs atop any prestigious list (not including this one). Either way, and win or lose Saturday, Pumphrey’s SDSU legacy is cemented.

Quick, off the top of your head: How many Aztecs can you name who were the undisputed face of the program for three consecutive seasons? Marshall Faulk for sure. Todd Santos, maybe. Anyone else? I’m drawing a blank.

Pumphrey has been a crucial part of 36 wins, two conference championships and four bowl appearances. But it’s been about more than numbers.

I think there’s something about D.J. that speaks to us as San Diego State fans. He’s been overlooked and dismissed by the Lords of College Football because of his size, his accomplishments minimized by the national press every step of the way. All fans of this program – all graduates of our beloved State school – know the feeling well.

In the face of it all, he’s handled himself with class. Mind you, I don’t mean “class” in the way some pearl-clutching BYU fan would define it. Pumphrey is not bland, emotionless automaton. He’s emotional. He can even be downright salty at times, unafraid to mix it up with opponents or giving a little clapback to the trolls.

D.J. has a little edge to him. I really dig that.

So with the Donnel Pumphrey college experience nearing its end, the time is right for a trip down memory lane. We’re proud to present this Twitter retrospective of the Pumphrey Years.


Let’s start from the beginning …

LOL that helmet. That’s something you get from a Homies vending machine at Albertacos.

How pumphed pumped were the fans about this recruit, you ask?

That response came during a season in which the Aztecs won their first conference title since 1986, but whatever. Point is, D.J. didn’t come to us with a ton of fanfare.


Fast forward to Game 1 of the Pumphrey era and see if anyone had spotted potential in the young man.

Mr. Ables did. Of course.

Tough to find many other mentions of Pumphrey during that year’s 0-3 start, including the 2013 opener against Eastern Illinois, though there were plenty of mentions of “embarrassing shitshow”, “fuck everything”and “I want to die” postings.

Then came the New Mexico State game. Surely you remember it.

Take away D.J. going off for three touchdowns that day in Las Cruces, and all of those treasured Famous Idaho Potato Bowl memories we hold dear would vanish like people in a McFly family photo.

The monster effort was a sign of things to come, as two more 100-yard games followed in short order.  All this from a kid barely legal to buy smokes. It was so impressive that even the military-industrial complex took notice.

Non defense-sector observers were equally impressed.

Not sure if that last word is a verb or a noun, but I agree with the sentiment regardless.

Pumphrey finished the season with only 752 yards as Adam Muema carried the bulk of the load. When Muema left the team after the season for reasons I am still uncomfortable joking about, doubts about Pumphrey’s size and durability lingered.

Doubts about his fashion sense did not.


In the second week of the season, SDSU traveled to North Carolina for its annual Power Five Moral Victory Team Building Exercise. Mr. Pumphrey clearly did not get the memo.

His first true monster game came three weeks later.

Against New Mexico in early October, he gave us all a taste of his true ceiling.

Wait, is “Ktown Donnel” a real nickname he has? And why does a spa care? MWC football gets confusing at times.

K-town Donnel’s 182-yard performance against Hawai’i was immortalized on this AM/PM Minimart security footage.

Even in a losing effort on the urinal cake turf in November, the Broncos had no answer for the sophomore.

When facing garbage teams, D.J. could be downright cruel.

Pumphrey had a then-career high 261 yards rushing against the Spartans. He finished the season with 1,867 overall. Unfortunately, his astounding season that did not get the storybook ending it deserved.

I remember the sight of D.J. in tears after the loss to Navy. At the time I actually wondered if it would be one of the defining images of his career. That’s not a thing I wonder about anymore.


Last season really didn’t get off to a rousing start for anyone at SDSU. Pumphrey’s start wasn’t much different, though he showed signs of stirring in Week 3.

I don’t remember this game at all and am just going to assume the final 2:05 of regulation were completely uneventful. Great win, Aztecs!

D.J. liking this tweet is the best thing. I want so badly to believe he liked it at halftime. This was the second of eight straight 100-yard games that coincided with an eight-game SDSU winning streak. Those games included this:

And this:

The 100-yard-game streak was snapped against Air Force in the MWC title game, but he still chipped in 154 all-purpose yards and a huge touchdown reception. Afterwards we got to see Pumphrey tears of a different variety.

In the Hawai’i Bowl, he added a rushing TD and his first passing touchdown as the Cincinnati Bearcats barfed skyline chili and mai tais all over their shoes.

Season totals: 1,653 yards rushing (2,067 all-purpose), 20 total touchdowns. Turns out he had a little more work to do.


Pumphrey started to generate some national Heisman buzz before his senior season, and SDSU athletics decided they weren’t fucking around.

Yowza, that’s … bold. How do you back that up?

If you said “breaking the ultimate Aztec legend’s rushing record while shredding a Pac-12 foe” you would be correct!

NOTE: Absolutely no one else was bored by this.

For the record, that was 281 yards and three scores as the Aztecs beat Cal. The following week, he ran for 220 at NIU and posed for this photo.

I’m not crying, YOU’RE CRYING.

Anyway, something something South Alabama.

Let’s move on …



SUCK IT, the concept of justice!

I should note that it wasn’t just the local partisans saying D.J. should get the invite to New York. Even important ESPN personalities with their very own *whimsically-logoed football helmets* thought so!

The ESPN love did not help there. Didn’t get misty at the Ables picture? Try this profile of D.J. and his ADORABLE CHILD!

If your eyes are not welling with tears at this very moment, it is because you are a potential serial killer or a Fresno State fan. Those are not at all the same thing at all probably.

So, um, then the Aztecs took their big-ass conference winning streak and access bowl dreams into Laramie.

It didn’t go real well.

With that, like a thunderstorm rolling across the front range, all 3,400 residents of the state logged on to Twitter at the same time to troll our hero.

Sadly, I should note that my search for “Pumphrey” and “fuckboy” came up empty, so this does not reflect the entire series of important events that evening. But two weeks later, frigid revenge was served to the fuckboys.

Fuckboys, u up?

I see you, fuckboys.

Naturally, as Aztec fans, we don’t get to enjoy anything for long. Only two days later, our buzz was harshed a teensy bit.

You’ve pissed off the wrong investigative journalist, shitbirds, watch your ass!

Which brings us to here and now.

Thanks for everything, Donnel. Now how about a follow???

And now for something completely different

As we have marveled at the accomplishments of Donnel Pumphrey, his Homsar-like bizarro alter ego Donnel Humphrey was also getting notice. In the interest of equal time, we present a Twitter retrospective of the Humphrey Years:

October, 2013. This one is forgivable.


I remembered.

Solid list here by Kevin Aguire.

You mean Herschel *Gawker*.

This is an A+ “well actually.”

I for real need to get a goat and name it this.

Ew. This Humphrey person sounds like a freak.


Author: Aztecs Killing Him

Former proprietor of AztecsKillingHim dot com, a long-dead SDSU sports blog that was possibly dumber even than this one. On Twitter at @akh_blog.


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