RECRUITING: In-depth interview with Jon Demps

The Florida Gators are in need of linebackers for the class of 2005. The projection right now is to have only 4-6 scholarship linebackers returning to campus next year with the possibility of the 4 being the greatest. Jon Demps could certainly go a long way in helping fill a void for the Gators.

The 6-3, 225 pound Demps from Pensacola (FL) Washington HS has scholarship offers from the elite in the state and out. Jon took some time out to tell us how he is doing and what he is looking for.

Jon Demps has been training hard this summer for his senior season. "The summer went good I did a lot of workouts and its time to get my body right", he said. "My coach had us doing an LSU and Cleveland Brown workout, they were pretty intense."

Mr. Demps visited a couple of camps over the summer. He told us, "I went to FSU and spent a couple of days at LSU. I was going to go to the Florida camp but a friend of mine went over to FSU so I went with him.

With the season fast approaching, we asked Jon about his team goals. "We want to win the district first, and play as hard as we can play", he said. Of his personal goals he added, "I would like to get 200 tackles but I will just go out there and make every play I can make. If I don't get it that's fine, I just want to play hard." Coming off of a junior season where he made 145 tackles, it doesn't sound like much of a reach to get 200. As far as other positions on the field, it looks like his coach wants him to stick to linebacker. He told us, "I play tight end, but my coach doesn't want me to get hurt. He took me off of special teams too."

One of his favorite football players, Demps said he patterns his game after the All-Pro linebacker. He added, "He plays side line to side line and very aggressive up the middle." Demps told us that his best attribute on the football field is his range.

When asked what he will base his college decision on, he told us, "Whatever place I feel like I can pursue a future that will help my mom and dad out with their school and their business." He surprised us with a non-football answer about his future choice and continued with, "Wherever makes my heart feel comfortable, even if it isn't close to home. Somewhere I can live there on a daily basis without it contending with my life in a negative way. It's basically about my future. Football, there will come a time when you have to stop playing. I am looking at the long run, like 50 years from now."

When asked what schools he favored, he replied, "Miami, Florida, Florida State, and LSU."

About Miami he told us, "I like their whole team environment. My coach used to play down there and he took me down to a camp down in April. When I went down there I had a good experience, he showed me around the campus. They always produce some of the best players in the nation. They get after people every year and always compete for the national championship. Basically they have the whole package, in football or business. They told me they are only offering 3 linebackers this year.

He evidently likes the Florida fans, he went on to say this about Florida, "Just to play in the Swamp is one of the best things. I went there when my brother was playing for LSU, and even though I was going for LSU their fans were just crazy. I would love to play in that type of environment. They are recruiting me hard to come down there."

Florida State is definitely one of his favorites, he shared some of the reasons, "It gives my friends and family a better chance of seeing me on a week in week out basis and I can come home whenever I want to. Coach Bowden is one of the most respected coaches ever."

His brother plays for the LSU tigers, so they already have a built in edge. Besides his brother being there, he told us more of what he liked at LSU, "Their defense is one of the best defenses in the last couple of years. I like their productivity. They told me I would fit right in to their defense. I like the fact that they won the national championship last year and I was able to go to a couple of their games. I already know most of the team, it's like I already fit in there.

With connections at LSU and proximity to their campus and to FSU, it is a given that Demps will be visiting a few college football games this year. H told us of his plan to see a few, "I plan on seeing my brother play at LSU and when they play in the Swamp. My coach is trying to get me to go down to Miami and see FSU play Miami."

Demps hasn't decided on official visit dates yet. His time has been consumed this summer by getting a few things in order. He told us, "I just got out of summer school trying to pull up my core grades so I haven't had time to set any dates yet."

One of the things we like to ask from the recruits is to tell us something about them that people don't know. Something that is different that they don't mind sharing. We probably got the most surprising answer, and inevitably one of the most sincere answers we will have to this question. Demps told us, "I didn't come from the average life as most. I had a couple of run-ins early in my high school career I got in trouble and got kicked out. But I have changed and I am thankful the lord has taken me out of that situation and put me in this situation. I like to be up front about it because it's not me anymore." Our first response to his statements was, why? Why would he want to put this out there? It's because it doesn't matter anymore with Jon Demps, this part of him is over. He is someone willing to admit to his downfalls and show he is a better person.

Jon Demps is a great high school football player that will probably be a great college player. He had a late start, but it certainly sounds like he is setting his priorities right. We certainly look forward to following his progress through the high school football season and during the recruiting process.

Jon Demp Q &A:

Mark McLeod: Pensacola had always been a hotbed, guys like Emmitt Smith and Derrick Brooks were very highly regarded coming out of there. We haven't seen as many high profile guys coming out of there in recent years. That trend may be reversing. Do you think that they were starting to see the area get back to those days?

Jon Demps: "Yeah. Everybody seems like they're coming up. There's a lot of talent around here and it seems like it's getting better. We just don't get a lot of publicity like some of the teams down south. But, it is finally getting better."

Mark McLeod: It looks like you're moving up on some of the lists at linebacker. It's obviously based on your performance at the camps. What have the coaches at FSU and LSU told you?

Jon Demps: "Basically, they keep telling me that they want me to come down there and get in their system real quick like and start or contribute my freshman year"

Mark McLeod: It looks as though Florida is showing more interest in you than they had previously, is that an accurate statement?

Jon Demps: "Yeah"

Mark McLeod: What have they told you?

Jon Demps: "Well, Florida wants me to come in, and their situation, they don't have that many linebackers. They want me to come in there and play right away."

Mark McLeod: How about the other schools?

Jon Demps: "Miami wants to come and compete for a starting position and at least if I don't make a starting position, play special teams. So does FSU. And LSU they really don't have a true MIKE linebacker. So they're looking for one. Hopefully, I could come in there and work for a position"

Mark McLeod: Has MIKE always been your first love?

Jon Demps: "Uh, no. Running back was my first love. Back in my hey days, (laughs) if I have any, I used to play running back. When I got to high school they switched me to linebacker for what reason I don't know. I guess because my brother played there."

Mark McLeod: What part of your game did you address this summer?

Jon Demps: "My balance and my mid-body strength. My strength coach told me that the best part of your body is probably your abs. That controls the middle part of your body, so that you can control and just learn how to keep your balance and stay on your feet instead of running after the player and making an arm tackle. I need to run through the opponent. Coach Saban helped me out with that, keeping my balance on my feet and my knees and all that"

Mark McLeod: Are you ready academically?

Jon Demps: "Yeah. I'm going to take my test a couple more times because I want to make sure that it's all the way there."

Mark McLeod: Does LSU have that edge because of your brother, who plays for them?

Jon Demps: "Not really, but you know what I'm saying, they've been recruiting me since my 10th grade year. They have a little bit of an advantage because you know all of those players and coaches"

Mark McLeod: Of all of those coaches who has been the most impressive and why?

Jon Demps:: "Oh, man. (Laughs) (long pause) Probably LSU has been the most impressive. Mainly because they've been recruiting me for three years and I know a lot about them and they know a lot about me"

Mark McLeod: Is there anybody else who has made a strong impression on you?

Jon Demps: "FSU made a good impression on me when I went over to their camp. They're pretty close and they have one of my role models in Derrick Brooks"

Mark McLeod: What will be that one thing that does it for you Jon, when it comes time to making that decision?

Jon Demps: "Just a place that I can feel comfortable in the defensive scheme and that I know that I'll be able to excel off the field and on the field"

Mark McLeod: If you had to arrange three criteria in level of importance when selecting a school in what order would they fall?

Jon Demps: "Probably the first thing would be playing time. Will I probably get enough playing time? The second thing would be education. What is the background of the college for that major? Do they have one of the best schools that will help me get the most of my education? The third thing would be if my family can get over and see me play often enough"

Mark McLeod: Are there any big games that you've outlined as the game you would like to see?

Jon Demps: "The only game that I really did that with is Miami and FSU. They play that early in the season. If I had a second one it would probably be LSU and Florida"

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