Rashard Pompey is one of the most unassuming members of the 2004 the University Football team.
The soft-spoken 5-foot-10-inch, 200-pound junior halfback from Tallahassee’s Godby High School was almost matter-of-fact following Saturday’s homecoming win over Savannah State, more pleased about the Rattlers’ third win of a rugged season than about the fact that he had become the 10th leading rusher in the history of FAMU.
“It’s a great honor,” Pompey said of the milestone, “but it’s even better because we got the win today.”
FAMU is in the midst of a rugged 2004 campaign which has yielded just three wins in eight games, due largely to a schedule that featured four division I-A teams in the first seven games including heavyweights Virginia Tech of the ACC and Illinois of the Big Ten.
Pompey, whose dad Robert was a freshman tailback when FAMU won the inaugural NCAA Division I-AA national title in 1978, has now rushed for 1,808 career yards in nearly three seasons.
The club’s rushing leader in each of the past two seasons, Pompey joined the Rattler program in 2002 as a walk on, who went on to lead the club with 650 rushing yards.
Last season, Pompey rumbled for 721 yards and caught 43 passes out of the backfield, the third highest total on the club in 2003.
But 2004 has seen his season numbers drop due to opposing defenses designed to stop the run and contain the Rattlers’ dangerous passing attack. He’s rushed for 437 yards on 98 carries (4.8 average) and five touchdowns.
Saturday, he vaulted into 10th place late in the first period on a scintillating 57-yard gallop that set up FAMU’s first score in the 50-14 romp.
“I understand not getting the ball as much this year,” Pompey said after Saturday’s game. “Teams are stacking the line to stop the run and we’ve been in positions where we had to throw more to try to win.”
Pompey vaulted past Clarence Hawkins (1974-77), who rushed for 1,756 yards for 10th place all-time.
Ninth on the list is Kwame Vidal (1993-96), a diminutive, yet tough back who rushed for 1,860 yards and still holds the single-game school record with 53 carries against Tennessee State in 1995.
Pompey needs 53 yards to move past Vidal, and with 63 yards in the final three games, he can move past Michael Solomon (1977-80) a teammate of his dad, who rushed for 1,870 yards, into eighth place.
Head coach Billy Joe, a star fullback in his day, was full of praise for his star back Saturday.
“I’m very pleased to see Rashard reap the benefits of his hard work and dedication in the off-season,” Joe said. “He and Paul Sharpe worked incessantly during the summer to prepare for this season. Rashard even improved his bench press to get ready for this year’s schedule and his hard work is paying off.”