Demps Working on Elusiveness

Jeff Demps can't remember a time when he struggled to run in a straight line. His Olympic sprinter speed allows him to run away from any defender without trouble. Getting around them is another issue. Demps has struggled with his elusiveness at Florida, and it's an area he committed to improving during the offseason.

Jeff Demps spends extra time after practice working to loosen his hips. Cone and ladder drills have also helped speed up the process and produce moves that will make the speedster more difficult to tackle in the fall.

"I'm just able to cut and make different reads better than I have," Demps said. "It's more mental now. The game is slowing down."

The time spent after practice wasn't all Demps did to improve his game. He spent time in the film room. He watched opposing defenders tackle him and ran through his mind of adjustments that could have been made to elude it.

He focused on smaller details like where the defense was before the play even occurred.

"I'd stay extra time to watch some film on the defense and know where they're going to line up," Demps said. "It's more visual, too. Seeing the linebackers and how they move, then I make my reads off that."

Demps didn't need any moves to get past defenders when he played at South Lake High School. His speed was disheartening for high school defenders that were lucky to lay a hand on him, much less drag him to the ground.

On the track, Demps is only focused on running straight. There is no change of motion, only blazing to the finish line as fast as possible.

The focus now must change on the football field. The elusive part of Demps' game is what will see his productivity go to the next level.

"That had a lot to do with it," Demps said of his track mindset compared to football. "It was always go straight or one left turn, then go straight again. It's more about change in direction now. Hopefully that helps me out a lot this year."

Despite the freakish track times Demps posted at Olympic trials, he still claims that football is at the top on his list. After he plays his final season in Gainesville, he will continue to pursue a career in football. If that doesn't happen, he will always have the multi-million dollar possibility of track to lean on.

"It wasn't that hard," Demps said of turning the track money down. "It's money, but it's not like what you get in football. Football is my first option anyway."

Demps will be featured more as a true running back this season, running out of the I-formation and multiple formations where quarterback John Brantley starts under center. He has had success running between the tackles throughout his career.

The toughness Demps needs to do it successfully has been evident in camp. He suffered a concussion from hitting a linebacker in blocking drills, but the junior running back is now participating in practice again.

"I think I'm tough enough," Demps said. "That's the main part of it. You've got to have that demeanor. (Coach Drayton) is teaching all the backs about having that demeanor to put your pads down and get those one or two yards."

The talk since Urban Meyer has taken over in Gainesville has been about a running back with a 1,000-yard season. It hasn't happened yet, but this could be the year with so many of the rushing yards being gone with Tim Tebow no longer on the team.

"The ball will be spread around," Demps said. "If the running back gets 1,000 yards, that would be great. I'd rather win the game than someone get 1,000 yards."
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