Demps continues to ponder future in football, track

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The Jeff Demps debate continues. Track or football?

Florida’s running back set the record as the fastest junior runner his senior year at Groveland South Lake High and then went on to be a intricate part of Florida’s 2008 national championship run as a true freshman.

Last year, Demps claimed the indoor 60-meter (6.56) and outdoor 100-meter (9.96) crowns, becoming the 12th person in NCAA men’s Division I history to accomplish the short-sprint sweep. His 60-meter time was a new Florida record. He added a national championship in anchoring the Gators’ 4×100-meter relay squad.

In football, Demps was listed as a possible Heisman Trophy candidate by ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit and started the season off with two monstrous games before he was sidelined for the majority of the year with a stress reaction in his foot.

The question now is if Demps will have durability issues as a running back at the next level. The one game he carried more than 20 times was the game that basically ended his season. It makes you wonder if he’ll seriously consider leaving football behind to train for the 2012 Olympics in London.

For now, Demps said he’s far from any sort of decision on where his future lies, but expects to return to the football field this fall.

“I still plan to come back and play my last year,” Demps said.

Demps returns to the track a little battered, but confident that with the daily treatment he’s getting he’ll get back to full health before the meat of the season arrives.

“The foot is feeling pretty good,” Demps said. “I’m kind of resting on it right now so I’ll probably start up on it pretty soon.”

Florida track and field coach Mike Holloway said he doesn’t expect Demps to run for the nation’s No. 1 men’s team in the season’s opener this weekend at the Nittany Lion Challenge at Penn State. Holloway added that he’s not concerned with Demps’ foot now, but is hoping it will be ready by the time the conference meet arrives in late February.

“He says he’s OK,” Holloway said. “We’re just taking it day by day. Our big thing is he needs to be ready when we have conference in six weeks and nationals in eight.

“He’s got a lot of God-given talent. He chose the right parents.”

As for Demps’ future, Holloway said he’s letting his runner decide that. Holloway doesn’t know how Demps would do in the NFL, but he thinks with time and complete focus, Demps could be a star in the world of track and field.

“I told Jeff there’s no doubt in my mind that if he’s a full-time track guy he can run a 9.8,” Holloway said. “I’ve had a couple guys run 9.91, 9.93 and he’s as good, if not better, than those guys. The big thing is Jeff has got to be happy. I can think Jeff can run 9.6, but if Jeff wants to go play professional football then that’s what he’s got to do.

“I would love to have a guy like Jeff out here every day.”

While his professional career will be a question for debate in the coming months, Demps said he isn’t concerned with that. His thoughts are on bringing a national championship to Gainesville for the men’s team and getting below last season’s 9.96 in the 100m.

What time is Demps shooting for? Well, that’s a no-brainer.

“Anything faster than that,” he said.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Hope he stays with football. And does he really have to be the go to tailback all the time. I still think the Gators would benefit from having several QUALITY tailbacks who could run well, catch out of the backfield, and get a rest on the sideline. Of course to do that you need a stable of great backs so that when he takes a rest offensive production will stay at a championship level. Hope that the oline will help with this in 2011! As with all the positions on the team I hope that the 2011 Gators will play a lot of their talented athletes during games and not follow first string, second satring so rigidly. Most of these guys, if they’re good enough to play at Florida, should be Starter A and Starter B and NOT sit on the sideline until the end of the 4th quarter!
    They need playing time often.

  2. Jeff will make up his own mind that’s for sure. Only he knows what his heart is telling him to do. But, his best ability is running fast, really fast, smoking fast. He really seems to have a real future in track and field and it would be a real shame if any football injuries were sustained that would keep him from his destiny (whatever that might be) I certainly hope he finds a path that leads to a very productive and fullfilling future.

  3. Dear Jeff,
    As demonstrated by your last coach, you can both love your team mates and your team (Go Gators!), yet still walk away before your “obligation” is over with your head held high. Please decide what is best for you and your health, but make a decision and stick with it. I, for one, have been watching you since HS and believe you can be the best in the World on the track. You will never be the World’s best football player: There is no such thing!
    Good luck and God Bless, remember, many, many Gators will be cheering you on whichever path you take. PS- I hope your foot feels better!

  4. How about a move to Wide Out. This is what I expect with a pro style O. He is plenty fast and strong for this type of position. I agree he should do what is best for himself and giving up football and its scholarship might be the thing to do.

  5. rooferman…would you please move on and quit associating everything with Coach Meyer…you need to give it a rest..one would think the way you continue to “slam” our former coach that you are not a true Gator fan, but a rival with a “hidden” agenda…quit “beating a dead horse”

  6. Maybe God will help him decide what is best for him, use his talents as God sees fit. Either way it’s a bonus for us as Gator fans to see a guy with such a big smile and from what I see so coachable playing or running for us. I wish him the best and hope his first choce is the one that makes him the happiest. Go Jeff and UF.

  7. M,
    You are the one with the hidden agenda, did I name a coach? I wish Mr. Demps the best, why can’t you leave it at that? What are you, on some sort of Gator Inquisition? Take a look at yourself first. I bet you even liked Zook!

  8. I supported Coach Zook when he was the Gator coach…bet you were on the fireronzook.com website before he even coached a game at UF..just kidding 🙂
    Did you not imply something negative against our ‘last coach” (which was Coach Meyer?) “as demonstrated by your last coach”? “make a decision and STICK to it’?
    Maybe I’m reading something into your post that you did not mean (tired of all the negative coments about Coach Meyer and the team) if so I apologize to you…I’m a little senistive when it comes to my Gators 🙂

  9. BTW..anything wrong with liking Coach Zook? He was a good man that was over his head at UF…he did a wonderful thing for my nephew that was having back surgery…he really is a super nice man..just not a good fit for the Gators

  10. MR. Demps has served this University very well in two different sports. If he gave up on both of them right now we as a GATOR NATION owe him a great deal of thanks and gratitude. I hope he find some comfort, go with his heart and if one of the sports survive, we still should be grateful for his services. What ever you decide, Thanks a million for what you have given us, and the very best to you in any endeavor you embark upon. You are a true GATOR. GO GATORS!!!