Former San Diego State running back Marshall Faulk was named as part of the 2017 College Football Hall of Fame Class in January, and he will be officially inducted during the 60th NFF Annual Awards Dinner Dec. 5 at the New York Hilton Midtown. He will be honored this Saturday with an NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute, presented by Fidelity Investments, when the Aztecs host Boise State at 7:30 p.m. PT on CBS Sports Network.
Faulk: Up Close
- Named a three-time First-Team All-American, earning unanimous honors in 1992 and 1993.
- Competed three times as a Heisman Trophy finalist, finishing second in 1992.
- Led the nation in rushing yards per game in both 1991 and 1992.
- Played for coach Al Luginbill.
- Becomes the second Aztec player to enter the Hall.
Marshall Faulk didn’t choose San Diego State so much as the Aztecs chose him. That’s the message the former running back delivered in his 2011 enshrinement speech for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And it’s a reminder now of just how many programs missed out on Faulk as he enters the College Football Hall of Fame.
Then-SDSU receivers coach Curtis Johnson, a New Orleans native, noticed Faulk on tape while recruiting another player at Carver (La.) High. He brought the tape back to then-head coach Al Luginbill, who recognized what so many overlooked. The rest, as they say, is history.
“While going through the recruiting process, they were the first school to offer me an opportunity to play running back,” Faulk said during his 2011 speech. “I had been a high school All-American defensive back and just a running back who had not received a lot of attention because I played too many positions on offense.”
That statement is in some ways ironic, given that Faulk ended up being something of a Swiss-Army knife at both the college and NFL level. That became evident right from the get-go, as Faulk burst onto the scene in just his second collegiate game, rushing for a then-NCAA-record 386 yards — and a whopping seven touchdowns — in a win over Pacific. He finished the 1991 campaign as the first freshman to lead the nation in scoring (140 points) and rushing (158.8 yards per game) in the same season.
Faulk ended up leading the nation in rushing twice (1991, ’92), and he became a three-time First-Team All-American, including twice as a unanimous selection (’92, ’93). He was also a three-time Heisman Trophy finalist, finishing second in the voting in ’92. In all, the versatile back finished his three-year college career with 4,589 rushing yards and 57 touchdowns while adding 973 receiving yards and five more scores through the air. His 12.1 points per game remain an FBS record.
It was all simply a harbinger of things to come, as Faulk did more of the same with the Indianapolis Colts — who drafted him second overall in 1994 — and the St. Louis Rams, with whom he won an MVP and a Super Bowl as one of the leaders of the “Greatest Show on Turf.”
Faulk in many ways redefined the running back position, but he took pride in doing everything out of the backfield. After all, that’s why he chose the Aztecs despite interest from bluebloods like LSU, Nebraska, Miami and Texas A&M — all of whom admired his skills as a five-position prep player but weren’t as committed as SDSU was to keeping him at running back.
Though busy in his day job as an analyst for the NFL Network, Faulk remains active with underprivileged youth, having established the Marshall Faulk Foundation in 1994. He created the Marshall Faulk Scholarship Endowment at SDSU as well.
The 5-foot-10 Faulk also provided valuable mentorship to 5-9 Aztecs protégé Donnel Pumphrey, who ended up breaking several of Faulk’s school records en route to finishing his career in 2016 as the FBS all-time rushing leader (6,405 yards).
“(Running backs coach Jeff Horton) said this is the guy you’ve got to look up to,” Pumphrey told Faulk during a campus video this past spring. “This is the guy you’ve got to chase.”