The New and Improved Jeff Demps

With 1,350 rushing yards and a 7.6 yard per carry average in his first two years on campus, you would think Florida's junior running back Jeff Demps wouldn't have much to improve on. Instead, the coaching staff is working on trying to make Demps a more dynamic player, something that could actually increase his averages and make him a more complete back. So far the work seems to have paid off.

For a couple of weeks now one of the big subjects on this Florida Gators football team has been the play of running back Jeff Demps. The NCAA champion in the 100 meters, everyone knows that Demps has elite straight ahead speed. Now, running back coach Stan Drayton has been assigned the task of making Demps a more elusive runner. The talk lately has been that Demps is a changed man in his running style....and for the better.

When asked for an example, Drayton thought for a minute before talking about a particular motion that Demps has progressed at nicely.

"We call it a running triple move," Drayton said earlier this week. "If he wants to go to the right, he will give a quick move to the right, then a hard move to the left to get the defender to bite on the hard move left, and then come back right. He's doing that full speed. That is a talent that I'd rather recruit because it is hard to teach and you want someone to come in here with it."

Junior Chris Rainey has more wiggle than a garden snake, and is something Drayton never had to teach the running back turned slot receiver.

"Rainey is phenomenal at it, but he came here with it," Drayton said. "Demps has improved with it and that says a lot for that kid. He has worked a lot in the offseason to get that going. I have seen it in his route running. I've seen it with the football in his hands. It is going to make him a better football player and we'll see him have a lot of explosives (plays) this year because of it."

"You are used to going so fast in a straight line. To be able to come to balance and do those things is hard for an athlete like that. He's figured it out. He has the tempo of it and he is starting to get faster and faster with it."

Drayton mentioned the route running and Demps has turned himself into the best at doing just that. Yet one more thing that will see him get on the field more often than his running back mates.

"Surprisingly they all have pretty good hands," Drayton said before realizing that should be a prerequisite for his guys anyway. "I like the way Jeff Demps is running his routes right now. I think he is putting himself in position that if he gets himself in a man situation one-on-one with a defender, he can separate from the defender. That is huge for a running back in this offense, especially when you have a quarterback that sees the whole field and can check it down to a back in those situations. He wants that check down and that back to be open. There shouldn't be a second guess there."

Demps has 23 catches for 193 yards in his two years on campus. Look for that to increase with his positive play in the passing game and with a quarterback that s likely to throw the ball a lot more in this offense.

With his all around game, Jeff Demps may play a more prominent role in the Gator offense than ever before.


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