There is a familiar school, yet again, near the top of the FBS rushing leader standings.
This year, instead of now Philadelphia Eagles running back Donnel Pumphrey, the rusher is San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny.
The 21-year-old had another stellar performance against Air Force despite terrible conditions and a lightning delay. He racked up 128 yards and had three rushing touchdowns. He also broke a 53-yard run in the game as well. His quickness and explosiveness, even in the conditions in which he was in, was on display all game long on Saturday night.
This terrific game, along with his other previous contests, have propelled Rashaad Penny into the all so coveted, “Heisman conversation”. Like Penny, Donnel Pumphrey was said to be in the Heisman debate by San Diego reporters, and even a few national media members. However, he fell short due to the team’s lack of national exposure and the fact that he was the only real offensive weapon for Rocky Long last year. That is not the case this year. So far, the San Diego State Aztecs are finally getting the national exposure they deserve. In fact, after beating quality teams such as Arizona State, Stanford, and Air Force, they have found themselves in the top 2o of the FBS rankings.
Now, the running back is not the lone option on offense for head coach Rocky Long. There are so many other weapons on offense. For example, Christian Chapman, who has gotten a lot better and is not only a game manager anymore. Juwan Washington, the backup running back, takes a good amount of carries each game, and is progressing. Mikah Holder and David Wells, both have been very solid pass catchers. Lastly, fullback Nick Bawden, who I think is the focal point of the offense. If he is on his “A” game, the offense runs very well. If he is not having the best of games, which is very rare, the offense looks very ugly and does not produce to the potential at which they are capable. So, the Heisman voters, this year, cannot say that Rashaad Penny is putting up these numbers only because he is the lone play-maker on offense. They will have to face the truth and tell themselves they he is simply, pretty damn good.
Rashaad Penny has been having a terrific year and many people have started to take note of it. Before the Air Force game, and I’m sure that game can only help his chances, Penny was ranked as the sixth-best Heisman Candidate by ESPN.com. He has also been ranked in the top five by many other prestigious websites and publications.
The Aztecs running back currently places second in rushing touchdowns and rush yards per game among FBS running backs. He also has one kickoff return for a touchdown. These tremendous stats, along with an excellent team record (4-0), will surely tempt Heisman voters to give Rashaad Penny some serious consideration for the trophy.
If Rashaad Penny keeps putting up the numbers and San Diego State keeps climbing the rankings of the FBS standings, Rashaad Penny will definitely be in the Heisman conversation. He has already gained national attention, something non power-five players have a hard time achieving, even while putting up similar statistics to Rashaad Penny. San Diego and the entire country need to rally behind and back Rashaad Penny as a serious Heisman candidate. The Rashaad Penny for Heisman train is still rolling. And rolling hard. Go Aztecs!
Campbell is a senior in High School. He has been a San Diego sports fan all his life and forever will be. Fan of the Padres, Chargers (undecided), Aztecs, Lightning, Bayern Munich, USMNT, and the future San Diego MLS club. He hopes to spread his knowledge and love for San Diego sports to as many people he can.