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Canyon Springs’ Pumphrey verbally commits with San Diego State football

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Sam Morris

Canyon Springs running back Donnel Pumphrey heads upfield against Las Vegas during their game Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011. Canyon Springs won the game in overtime 22-21.

Senior RB Donnel Pumphrey

Canyon Springs running back Donnel Pumphrey talks about the upcoming 2012 football season. Pumphrey recently verbally committed to play football at San Diego State.

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Donnel Pumphrey couldn’t resist a scholarship offer from the San Diego State football program.

Pumphrey, a 5-foot-9, 165-pound running back from Canyon Springs High, committed to the Aztecs Tuesday because the school and program were a perfect fit, he said.

San Diego State will be moving to the Big East Conference from the Mountain West Conference during Pumphrey’s freshman season — a fact that played heavy in his decision. Pumphrey, whose 4.43 second speed in the 40-yard dash makes him a threat to score every time he touches the ball, said he picked San Diego State over offers from UNLV, Oregon State, Duke and New Mexico.

“What attracted me the most was San Diego State moving to the Big East,” he said. “The Big East is a good spot for running backs. You see a lot of Big East guys going to the NFL.”

Pumphrey also couldn’t resist returning home to play college football. He moved to Southern Nevada in the eighth grade and has several family members still living in the San Diego area.

“It was really important to me to play in front of my family,” he said.

Pumphrey rushed for 1,666 yards and 22 touchdown in 2011 in helping Canyon Springs win the Northeast Division. Against Las Vegas in the regular season finale for the league crown, he carried the ball 43 times for 223 yards and two touchdowns and scored the decisive points on a 2-point conversion in overtime .

He will join an exclusive club of Canyon Springs players to reach the Division I ranks — athletes such as Juron Criner (Oakland Raiders) and Devonte Christopher (University of Utah) have had the most success at the next level.

“We are more than North Las Vegas kids,” he said. “We are student-athletes and coach (Hunkie) Cooper is actually building something positive here. People don’t think of Canyon Springs as a good school or team. But it’s actually a great place to be.”

Pumphrey is the second local this summer to commit to San Diego State, joining Foothill wide receiver Tyler Morris.

Verbal commitments are non-binding and don’t become official until national signing day in February.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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