Demps, who attended the University of Florida and is the only Florida Gator athlete to have won national championships in two sports with his 2009 BCS National Championship in football and multiple indoor and outdoor track titles, is also an Olympic silver medalist. At the 2012 London Olympics, Demps was a member of the U.S. Olympic 4×100 meter relay team.
He signed with the Patriots as a free agent following the Olympics but was subsequently placed on injured reserve and missed the entire 2012 season.
He was traded to the Bucs in 2013 for running back LaGarrette Blount, but admittedly his mind was still on track and field. At least it was until he arrived at One Buc Place. That’s all changed now for the Groveland, Fla., native who is in his first full training camp since his senior year at Florida in 2011.
In The Tampa Tribune, Demps said, “I don’t know what it was (that caused me to lose the fire for football)…I still love track. But what’s best for me this year is to just focus on football and get better at that. The thing is I’ve always had a football background. I grew up playing football. The reason I got into track was to stay in shape for football. You have to love football to play it well. If you don’t, you’re just going to be wondering all the time. ‘Why am I going out here getting beat up every day?’”
Head coach Lovie Smith is on record as saying that Demps is the fastest player in the NFL. Demps is willing to back it up the claim.
“Anybody that challenges me, I’ll take myself all day,” Demps said.
Figuring out how to best utilize Demps’ blazing speed is what Smith and the coaching staff are trying to figure out in camp. Demps has been running the ball out of the backfield, catching passes as a wide receiver and fielding kickoffs in practice.
“I kind of kid the guys a little bit, telling them that if they don’t do anything it’s kind of hard to notice them,” Smith said. “But Jeff, he seems to get noticed just about every day.
“But it’s early and it’s tough competition out there. And sometimes you’ll get a track athlete and they’d rather (do their work) before your put the pads on. That’s not the case with Jeff. Jeff will let you know, he’s a football player.”
Even without a defined role, Demps’ exceptional speed can wreak havoc on defenses, and for now, it’s enough for Smith to know he could potentially start the season with that kind of weapon in his arsenal.
Tom Jones and Rick Stroud of radio station WDAE 629 in Tampa, discussed Jeff Demps and his potential game-changing speed (podcast embedded below).
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Tags: Buccaneers, Football, Jeff Demps, LaGarrette Blount, NFL, Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, The Tampa Tribune, U.S. Olympic, University of Florida