Meyer: Rainey outran Demps


Florida head football coach Urban Meyer speaks during SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. on Wednesday.

Doug Finger / The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, July 24, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 23, 2008 at 4:48 p.m.

HOOVER, Ala. — Jeff Demps is history's fastest high school athlete.

But he's not the fastest Gator, apparently. That honor belongs to redshirt freshman tailback Chris Rainey, who took down Demps in a recent head-to-head race behind a dorm on campus.

Florida coach Urban Meyer revealed the race — and the result — at SEC Media Days on Wednesday when he was asked if the Gators were achieving his goal of becoming America's fastest college football team.

"The fastest 18-year-old to ever run track, his name is Jeff Demps, he's on our campus now," Meyer said. "I don't know if he can catch a ball, but he can run like hell. Chris Rainey beat him in a race the other day.

"Here are these two catting it. We don't condone that. Everyone was saying how fast (Demps) is, so they said, ‘Let's go in the back of the dorms, let's figure this thing out.’ I guess Chris nudged him out, so we've got some speed."

Quarterback Tim Tebow said Rainey and Demps raced in a 40-yard dash, and it's been the talk among the players on the team the past few days.

"I didn't witness it, but I've heard a lot about it," Tebow said. "It was interesting, they said. There were several false starts. From what I hear, Rainey did win in the 40. It's pretty unbelievable because (Demps) is one of the fastest in the world (in the 100-meter dash)."

This past spring, Demps ran the fastest 100 in the history of high school track, burning up the UF track in 10.17 seconds at the Pepsi Relays. Demps beat that time with a 10.01 at the U.S. Olympic Trials earlier this summer and is now enrolled at UF for the Summer B semester.

Rainey has a history of taking on speed challenges like this one with Demps.

When Rainey was at Lakeland High School, he was challenged to a race by legendary high school star Noel Devine (now at West Virginia). The two raced in a shopping mall parking lot, with the victory going to Rainey.

Meyer said he wished he'd seen the Rainey-Demps duel.

"You probably could have sold about 10,000 tickets for that, and ESPN GameDay probably would have been there as well," Meyer said.

Rainey is more than just fast. He's also going to play a vital role in the UF offense, Meyer said.

"He's a dynamic player," Meyer said. "I hope Chris can give us a little bit of flexibility (in a dual role similar to Percy Harvin), as well as in the return game. If he stays healthy, Chris will be a big part of this offense."

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