Demps saving it for FSU?

Sometimes folks just make mistakes in recruiting, some more than others. Maybe it's the system, maybe it's just a great fit, but true freshman Jeff Demps was spurned by the Florida State football program and is dazzling Gator fans and opponents on his way to a very special true freshman season. A rested Demps is ready to take it to Florida State.

A year ago, the Gators set out to sign a dominant running back for the class of 2008. They were looking for a speedster but one with size and ability to run between the tackles and make would be tacklers miss.

Groveland (FL) South Lake running back Jeff Demps was a speedster no doubt. He made the Olympic trials where he ran an all-time high school record 10.01 seconds in the 100 meters. Demps is most likely the fastest collegiate football player in America.

At 5-9 and 180 pounds, Demps wasn't the power back that a lot of teams were looking for, even with all the speed. Still, that speed kept Florida interested and Gators' Offensive Coordinator Dan Mullen saw enough to push Head Coach Urban Meyer into offering him a scholarship to play football for the Gators.

The fact is, Demps world class track speed, comes second nature. He grew up playing football and turned to track in high school when he realized he could excel there as well.

"I was fortunate enough to be the one that really recruited Jeff, so I knew he was a football player that went to do track," Mullen said earlier this week. "He was a guy the track team got off the football team in high school."

Florida recruited Demps hard and offered him a scholarship relatively early in the process and before his senior season started. They pulled out all the stops once they saw what kind of player he was. They had one big hurdle it seemed, Demps grew up a big fan of the Florida State Seminoles. His favorite college player ever wore garnet and gold.

"Back in the day I wanted to go there," Demps said when asked about being a FSU fan. "When I was a kid I had FSU gear… Peter Warrick, I just loved the way he played, he had a great work ethic and great attitude with the way he played."

However, the Noles made it easy on the Gators. They didn't even want Demps.

"I got recruited for track there, not for football," he said.

This one may go down as one of the all-time gaffes in college football recruiting before all is said and done.

The Gators had a hard time inserting any running back in the lineup in 2007 and have them produce at a high level. They had three runs total over 30 yards from the running back position last season. Things have changed dramatically this season and Demps is one of the major factors in the turnaround.

Demps currently has 45 rushes for 440 yards and a 9.5 average per carry. His average touchdown run this year is 45.2 yards. He had the first receiving touchdown of his career against Kentucky on a 61-yard reception.

Demps has single handedly doubled the 30 plus yard runs from the running back position that the Gators had last season with six runs of over 30 yards this season. He also has he longest touchdown run by a true freshman (62 yards against Hawaii) in the nation this season.

Demps also joined elite company this season when he had back-to-back 100-yard rushing games. Demps, Neal Anderson and Emmitt Smith are the only true freshmen in school history to accomplish that feat. Smith is the NFL's all time leading rusher and Anderson enjoyed a long career in the NFL himself as a star running back.

So, Demps gets to show what he can do this week when he takes on his former favorite team. He comes in to this game with a bit of an extra chip on his shoulder.

"It means a lot," he said of the game pitting the thirrd ranked Gators against 20th ranked Florida State. "Growing up as a Seminole fan I loved those guys. Now that I'm on the opposite side, I am going to do my best to beat them."

All of the fondness is gone for his once beloved Noles.

"I never saw myself with anyone else but Florida State. Now that I am here, I lost that and they are kind of the enemy now and I don't really like them any more. It's time to get after them."

Urban Meyer thought enough of Demps to pull him out of the game with The Citadel last week in order to make sure he was ready to go this week. Demps, the consummate team player could care less about racking up silly yards against last week's opponent.

"We pulled Demps out," Meyer said shortly after that game. "I grabbed him and said ‘you're going to be a 1,000-yard rusher.' When? I don't know, but hopefully next year…and he's not worried about stats."

The Noles should have their hands full. They will have a 10-flat, 100 meter, touchdown maker with a chip on his shoulder coming to town. And that speedster will have the benefit of being fresh and ready to go against his new biggest enemy.

"I will be pretty rested and pretty excited," Demps said about the game coming up.

And he also has something to prove.


Fightin Gators Top Stories