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.