LB Knows UM's Needs

Jon Demps has been a tackling machine this year. In nine games at Pensacola (Fla.) Washington, Demps has made 150 total stops as well as causing five fumbles and registering three quarterback sacks.

"I owe a lot of it to my coaches," Demps said. "A lot of times coaches will move guys all around to help the team out. They've left me in the middle and that's where I've always been most comfortable."

The talented middle guy had a pair of 24-tackle games this season, one 23-tackle performance, and is coming off a 19-tackle performance in his regular season finale.

"I feel like I'm in the position I'm in now because I have God in my life," he said. "He blessed with me with my body (6-4, 225 currently) and I know it's not all about how big or fast you are. Being a great linebacker these days is all about knowing where to be at the right time. You can be the biggest and fastest guy out there but if you don't get to the ball based on how quickly you recognize things, does it really matter? I think my instincts are a huge advantage for me."

As Demps and his teammates stroll into the playoffs this week, they've been through a nine-game season. When asked which opposing player was the most impressive to him this season, Demps didn't hesitate.

"Bruce Johnson from Suwannee was real tough," he said. "He had 139 yards against us but our guys did a good job with him, not allowing him to break the long one. He's so fast and can break people's ankles out there but the most impressive thing about him is his ability to accelerate. He gets to top speed pretty quickly and that makes him dangerous on either side of the ball."

Demps continues to be a major recruiting prospect for many of the nation's top programs. He has decided on his five visits.

"On the 17th of December, I'm going to Miami," he said. "On the 3rd, I'm headed to LSU but hopefully we'll still be playing then so I may have to reschedule. I'm going to Florida State on either the 15th or 22nd of January, Ole Miss on the 29th, and I'm going to Auburn -- probably sometime in January or earlier."

The talented linebacker prospect says he's not ready to name a favorite at this point.

"I've gone back and forth but I don't really have one that stands out right now," he said. "I was real interested in Florida but the relationship I built with Coach Zook and Coach Disch doesn't help them now. Even if they bring in a guy like Spurrier, I have no idea how I'd feel around him. I'll take my five visits and make my decision after my last visit."

Demps said he talks to the UM coaches on a regular basis. He's been paying close attention to the Hurricanes this season as well.

"I've never seen Miami lose two games like they've lost lately," he said. "I think their biggest problem is they're losing focus on defense. One of the reasons I like Miami so much is because after they lose just two games everyone goes crazy like they're losing it or something. They're so used to winning down there that a couple losses is a big deal to them."

Demps, who is being recruited by UM coach Don Soldinger, admits the depth chart at UM is favorable to any linebacker prospect.

"They told me they need more linebackers on campus," he said. "They're real thin right now and I'm pretty sure I can at least play a lot on special teams right away."

Despite the fact that the opportunity to play early exists at UM and some other places, that's not a priority in his decision.

"I'm convinced that I can go in and play anywhere," he said. "As long as I keep working hard and continue working hard at becoming a better linebacker all the time, I can compete with anyone."

On a side note, Demps told me to watch out for a junior running back at his school -- Brian Threat.

"It's Greg Threat's cousin," he said. "He's about 6-2, 190 pounds, and runs about a 4.4. He's only 15 years old I think too. He's a real good player as a junior and will be the man next year. You'll need to come up here and check him out next year."

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