Undrafted rookie Lance Dunbar is trying to stick with the Dallas Cowboys

Posted Wednesday, Jun. 13, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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IRVING -- Friends have already asked running back Lance Dunbar for tickets to see him play for the Dallas Cowboys this fall.

But Dunbar can't afford to look that far ahead. He's fighting every play in preseason practices trying to make the team.

"Just because I'm out here doesn't mean I'm on the team. I still have to prove myself," said Dunbar, who is one of Dallas' undrafted free-agent rookie signees.

Dunbar finished his career at North Texas as the Mean Green's all-time leading rusher with 4,224 career yards. He is also the top North Texas scorer with 49 touchdowns in his four years.

But Dunbar is still adjusting to the speed of NFL defenses.

"At this level, everyone on the field is so fast," Dunbar said. "You have defensive ends and defensive tackles who can run 4.4s. It's just amazing. I'm trying to just learn the offense from the professionals and show them what I can do."

So far, Dunbar is impressing.

"He's come in and he's shown he's very quick, agile and grasps what we're trying to do very quickly," Cowboys running backs coach Skip Peete said. "He makes good decisions in the running game. He can put his foot in the ground and really accelerate once he sees a crease and a hole. I've been impressed with the way he runs routes [and] catches the ball out of the backfield."

In organized team activities and minicamp practices, Dunbar has made plays consistently with the second team.

"He's a young back, but he flashes at you really every day in practice," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "He has good quickness, burst and acceleration."

Southlake Carroll offensive coordinator Clayton George is one of many in the area rooting for Dunbar. George was Dunbar's coach his junior year at Haltom before taking an assistant job at North Texas, where he was Dunbar's recruiter.

"He is the most dynamic, explosive player I've ever coached," said George, who was with the Mean Green for Dunbar's freshman and sophomore seasons. "I noticed he was special right away. And he's just as much of a special person, and his future is unlimited."

Dunbar can't fail now. He's come so far.

In 2005, Dunbar and about 20 members of his family fled from New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina barreled down on their hometown. Dunbar had played for De LaSalle High but had to adjust to a new life and football system at Haltom.

Even though he started his Haltom career in the middle of his sophomore season, Dunbar still compiled nearly 4,000 total yards and 28 touchdowns. He had offers to bigger colleges, including Colorado and Oklahoma State, but chose to stay close to his new home.

The Cowboys started contacting Dunbar near the end of the draft, when it appeared he wouldn't be selected, and signed him on April 30.

"You have to go hard every play. If you don't, the defense will make you look bad," Dunbar said. "I'm trying to come out here and work hard; know all of my assignments. I want to give the defense good looks and make plays. I feel I'm doing well."

George believes Dunbar will be a special player in the NFL.

"His story is like a movie script," George said. "The kid comes from a disaster, does well, stays local. He becomes the all-time leading rusher at North Texas, and then makes the Dallas Cowboys, America's Team. What a great story."

Dunbar is still working on that last part.

Legendary numbers

Since moving to Texas after fleeing Hurricane Katrina in 2005, running back Lance Dunbar has put up incredible rushing numbers for Haltom High School and North Texas, where he is the all-time leading rusher and scorer:

Haltom

2005

2006

2007

Rush yards

640

1,100

1,285

Rush TDs

4

14

7

Rec. yards

NA

750

183

Rec. TDs

NA

2

1

North Texas

2008

2009

2010

2011

Rush yards

178

1,378

1,553

1,115

Rush TDs

1

17

13

10

Rec. yards

51

300

332

350

Rec. TDs

1

2

3

2

Brent Shirley, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @bshirley08

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