Marshall Faulk’s record is gone but he’s still top running back in San Diego State history

Posted: 09/11/2016 in college football
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Donnel Pumphrey may now be San Diego State’s all-time leading rusher but let’s make one thing clear.

The greatest running back in Aztecs’ history will always be Marshall Faulk.

Oh sure, it’s possible that there could be another once-in-a-generation talent who someday chooses to be a San Diego State running back and makes the college football world take notice. I’m just thinking I won’t be alive in 2066 or 2116 or whenever that unlikely feat happens.

If you weren’t around to witness the Faulk era from 1991-93, you missed the most amazing feats ever seen by a person wearing a San Diego State football uniform. Starting with setting the then-NCAA single-game rushing record (386 yards) in his second college game to making USC defenders look like pylons on national television and stunning finishes of second and fourth place in the Heisman Trophy balloting of 1992 and 1993, respectively.

Faulk should have won the Heisman as a sophomore in 1992. But he suffered a season-ending knee injury on his second carry of the next-to-last game (he had 33 yards on those two rushes) and missed out on adding another 300 or so yards to his national-leading rushing total.

There was also ESPN’s Lee Corso lobbying hard against him all year in favor of Miami quarterback Gino Torretta, the eventual winner. The 1992 balloting is now looked back on as one of the worst Heisman snubs in the history of the award.

Of course, it didn’t help that the Aztecs went to just one bowl game — the defunct Freedom Bowl — in three years with such a special player who went on to NFL stardom and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

On Saturday, Faulk (4,589 career yards) was passed as the school’s all-time leading by Pumphrey (4,651) and that rates as a superb accomplishment for Pumphrey.

You can tell by Pumphrey’s postgame comments that he is humbled to have his name mentioned along with Faulk — see this stellar story by someone you know … Pumphrey pushes Faulk from SDSU record books.

That is good to see. I can remember numerous times when I was on the San Diego State beat that I broke the news of a high school running back committing to the school and the name of Faulk would eventually arise.

Several times, I heard a youngster express that they were going to break Faulk’s records. Most of the time, I shook my head (they couldn’t see that over the phone) and laughed about it later.

There was one player named Frederick Collins who was definitely sure he would be the one. He was a high school All-American who chose the Aztecs over Arizona State and Washington.

Shortly after his arrival on campus, another media member and I were discussing him during fall camp and I said I wasn’t all that impressed. The other writer was stunned because he was, well, a little too giddy about the kid.

Then the games started … and I was even less impressed.

Collins lasted all of one season. He had 333 yards – some 4,256 yards shy of Faulk’s record. He was no Faulk. He was definitely no Deacon Turner – the best running back BF (Before Faulk) in Aztecs’ history.

Collins certainly was no Pumphrey for that matter.

Pumphrey holds two of San Diego State’s top four single-season rushing-yardage seasons and certainly has a solid chance of making it three of the top five. He has enjoyed a great career and will someday join Faulk in San Diego State’s athletic Hall of Fame.

He deserves all the accolades. He deserves all the attention. He seems like has a good head on his shoulders. He may even make it to the NFL.

But don’t ever let anyone tell you he’s the best running back in San Diego State history.

He’s not and he never will be.

That title still belongs to a guy named Marshall Faulk.


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