Who will be Donnel Pumphrey’s backup next season for SDSU football?

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Who will be Donnel Pumphrey’s backup next season for SDSU football?

Rashaad Penny 20

Rashaad Penny 20

File Photo

Rashaad Penny 20

File Photo

File Photo

Rashaad Penny 20

by Ryan Posner, Sports Editor

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One of the unsung heroes from last year’s San Diego State football offense was senior backup running back Chase Price.

Although, it’s hard to be unsung when you rush for over 1,000 yards and six touchdowns.

He and junior running back Donnel Pumphrey became the first duo in school history to both rush for over 1,000 yards in a season.

That makes Price’s role all the more important to fill next year.

Luckily for the Aztecs, if there was a position where they had plenty of depth and players looking for opportunities, it’s at running back.

“We have three, maybe even four, really good running backs, and all of them will get hit and all of them will get to carry the ball (in spring practices),” head coach Rocky Long said on Feb. 19.

“That is probably the most interesting battle for positions on our team because everybody knows that our backup running back gets to carry the ball a whole bunch of times.”

There’s no question Pumphrey will be atop the depth chart when fall rolls around, but the backup role is a critical one on a team that makes a living off running the ball.

Even third-string running back, sophomore Rashaad Penny, rushed for four touchdowns last season, while also being named the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Year.

Besides Penny, sophomore Marcus Stamps, redshirt-freshman Juwan Washington and incoming freshman Chase Jasmin will be competing for snaps.

Here’s a look at who may be complementing No. 19 next season.

Rashaad Penny

Without a doubt, Penny brings the most experience to the table out of any of the potential backups.

Viewers got a taste of how explosive Penny can be as they watched him return three kickoffs for touchdowns last season, tied for No. 2 in the country.

He seems to be aligned to get most of the backup snaps next season, but he knows it will not be a one-man effort backing up Pumphrey.

“We can even go four (running backs) if we wanted,” he said. “We’re a run-first school.”

The 5-foot-11, 210-pound tailback has had quite a mentor in Pumphrey, who Penny said runs like he’s 220 pounds, even though he’s only 180.

“I talk to (Pumphrey) after practice like, ‘Hey what can I do better? How do I turn an 8-yard gain into a 25-yard gain?’ He’s a great person to go and listen to and pay attention to,” Penny said. “It’s paying attention to greatness.”

Marcus Stamps

Physically speaking, there may not be a running back on the roster that matches up with Stamps.

“You look at him and he looks like a Greek god, I wish I looked like that,” offensive coordinator Jeff Horton said of the 6-foot-1, 215-pound running back.

While the physique is there for Stamps, the numbers have not been and that has to do with a bad health streak.

Stamps missed time last season with both foot and ankle injuries and amassed just 16 carries.

“Obviously the main thing is staying healthy,” Horton said. “Nobody gets more frustrated about it than him.”

Juwan Washington

Fans may not know who Washington is yet, because he redshirted last season, but out of the group he very well could be the fastest.

He wowed people in limited time during fall practices last season with his explosive runs. 

Horton expects him to play a role on the offense in some capacity next year, possibly as a guy who takes fly sweeps like Penny did last season.

“He reminds me a lot of (Price), but he’s faster,” Horton said. 

“He still has a ways to go just learning the position, but he’s guy who’s got that dynamic speed that you can’t coach and he threatens to go the distance every time he touches it.”

Washington, who’s 5-foot-7, 175 pounds, is the smallest running back on the roster.

But Long believes he’s someone the team can run in between the tackles if needed, despite the smaller stature — much like Pumphrey.

Chase Jasmin

The mysterious member of the group at the moment is Jasmin, and that’s because he’s still attending Westlake High, a little bit north of Los Angeles.

A three-star recruit according to Rivals, Jasmin was arguably the biggest haul for the Aztecs this signing period, landing him over schools like University of Arizona, USC, University of Colorado and University of Washington.

Horton said he’s a mixture of Pumphrey and Penny in his size and running style.

Outside of football, though, Jasmin’s already gained some character points with his offensive coordinator.

“He’s got some guys lined up in front of him, but what I like about him is that he committed early and never wavered,” Horton said. “I like those kinds of guys who don’t care who’s ahead of them on the depth chart and just want to compete.”

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