Dunbar first attended Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, before accepting an athletic scholarship to attend Indiana University Bloomington and play for the Hoosiers teams in 1990 and 1991. His smooth and shifty running style and physique reminded many commentators of Florida's Emmitt Smith. With 4.5/4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash, Dunbar made up for the lack of explosive speed with "between the tackles toughness," outstanding balance and vision. He was one of the first in college to wear a reflective/shaded facemask visor making it difficult for Big Ten defenders to see where his eyes were looking.
Dunbar and fellow Hoosier running back Anthony Thompson brought national media attention to the Hoosiers' often overlooked football program. As a senior in 1991, he was recognized as a consensus first-team All-American and finished sixth in Heisman Trophy balloting after being ranked second in the nation in rushing yards per game.
1990: 250 carries for 1,224 yards with 13 TD. 16 catches for 122 yards.
1991: 364 carries for 1,805 yards with 12 TD. 29 catches for 263 yards.
The New Orleans Saints selected Dunbar in the first round, 21st pick overall, of the NFL Draft, and he played for the Saints in 1992 and again in 1994 and 1995. He finished his NFL career with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995. In his three NFL seasons, he compiled 965 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 267 carries.
Dunbar was subsequently a first round draft pick of the XFL's San Francisco Demons in 2001. He started all games for the first 4 weeks but was released after gaining just 29 yards on 25 carries. He subsequently retired from professional football.