Demps will return, Muschamp says

Florida coach Will Muschamp talks with reporters during Southeastern Conference Football Media Days in Birmingham, Ala., Wednesday, July 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Published: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 2:36 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 2:36 p.m.

HOOVER, Ala. — Florida tailback Jeff Demps is in Italy running with the U.S. National Track Team, fueling speculation that the speedy athlete will skip his senior season to concentrate on track.

But Florida coach Will Muschamp, who has spoken with Demps throughout the summer, said Wednesday he expects Demps to be in the Gator backfield this fall.

“Jeff and I have talked all summer,” Muschamp said. “He and I are going to meet next week. I expect him to be a part of our football team.

“He had a great indoor season (at UF), a great outdoor season, but he didn't run as well at the NCAAs as he would have liked. He was very frustrated about that.

“He wanted to run with the U.S. team, he wanted to go to Italy. When he comes back we're going to re-evaluate where he is. But I fully expect him to be a part of our football team.”

Demps' high school coach also said the running back will return despite the rumors.

“I've heard mention of that, but it's not accurate,” said Walter Banks, head coach at Groveland South Lake, Demps' alma mater. “I've been hearing it for three years and the last couple of weeks also. There's nothing to it.”

Ball won't play this season

Sophomore outside linebacker Neiron Ball will not be playing football for the Gators in the fall, Muschamp said.

Ball continues to recover from arteriovenous malformation, a congenital condition in which an abnormal connection forms between the arteries and the veins in the brain.

“He's going to be re-evaluated the first part of (next) year,” Muschamp said. “He will not do any physical activity (this fall).

“The most important thing to me is his health. He's fine. He's a great young man. We will re-evaluate him next January or February and see where that goes.”

Ball was hospitalized this past February when a blood vessel burst in his brain. He spent several days in intensive care.

Muschamp said Ball is currently in Colorado attending a spiritual development camp. He will be back in classes at UF in the fall.

Patchan is good to go

Muschamp said oft-injured offensive tackle Matt Patchan has been given a clean bill of health and he'll be at full speed when the Gators open their fall camp Aug. 6. Patchan missed the 2010 season after undergoing wrist surgery.

“He's been released. He's good to go,” Muschamp said. “He's still working on some flexibility with his wrist, but I'm really excited about his progress thus far.”

Patchan is expected to battle for a starting role at one of the offensive tackle positions.

Wenger a Gator now

Former Notre Dame center/offensive guard Dan Wenger is now officially a Gator after transferring to UF earlier this summer. He is eligible to play this season and has one year of eligibility remaining.

“He's working out with our football team,” Muschamp said. “He's a guy that's been in (offensive coordinator Charlie Weis') system there at Notre Dame. He's a guy that brings some toughness. He wants to be a strength coach.

“He was cleared by our medical staff. It's very positive in that he's a guy who has been through our (offensive) system. He understands it.

“He's been very beneficial for our players. He's a hard-nosed, tough kid. He'll play center or guard. We need some quality players in there. To have him for one year is a bonus for us.”

No Urban, but Nicki is here

For the first time in six years, there is no Urban Meyer at SEC Media Days. But there is a Meyer in attendance — Meyer's daughter Nicki, who was helping out Fox Sports Scout on Wednesday.

“I'm just shadowing today,” said Nicki, a volleyball player at Georgia Tech. “I'll be working a little with Fox in the fall, helping out with recruiting.

“My dad's not here this year. It's just me. One Meyer is here.”

Staff writer Jeff Barlis contributed to this report.

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