Sources tell PewterReport.com that the Bucs are very interested in signing former Gators track star, running back, receiver and return man Jeff Demps, who is fresh off winning a silver medal in the Olympics.
Sources tell PewterReport.com that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are seriously interested in signing former Florida running back-receiver-return man and Olympics sprinter Jeff Demps in an attempt to upgrade the team’s speed and playmaking ability on offense and special teams. Demps, who has just returned from London where he finished with a silver medal as part of the American 4 x 100-meter relay team, wants to focus on an NFL career with his track career behind him.
Demps, who has run the 100-meter in a time as fast as 10.01, did not sign with an NFL team after going undrafted in April because he wanted to focus on training for the 2012 Olympics at the time. He is now a free agent and has several teams interested, including the Buccaneers, who have been touching base with Demps as far back as the early summer prior to the Olympics.
In fact, the Bucs came close to signing Demps this summer when he failed to qualify for the Olympics, finishing seventh in Oregon. He was added to the 2012 U.S. Olympic roster as a member of the 4x100 meter relay teams, as a replacement for Mike Rodgers who had suffered a stress fracture. Instead of signing with the Bucs in July, Demps wanted to focus on racing in the Olympics and then concentrate on football in August.
Demps raced the first leg of the of the second qualifying heat, helping the team to a time of 37.38, breaking a 20-year American record. Demps didn’t run in the final, but his teammates ended up finishing second, earning a silver medal. As part of the team, Demps received a medal.
The Bucs see the value Demps brings from a football standpoint, as well as a public relations standpoint in appealing to the rabid Gators fan base in the Tampa Bay area. Tampa Bay used to have several Gators players on the team during the team’s rise in the late 1990s under head coach Tony Dungy, but there is not one former Florida player on the current training camp roster except for safety Ahmad Black, who was Tampa Bay's fifth-round draft pick in 2011.
Sources tell PewterReport.com that the Buccaneers envision using Demps as a slot receiver and a running back on offense and as a kick returner on special teams. Lining up Demps and his world class speed next to seventh-round draft pick, Michael Smith, who runs a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash, would cause fits for opposing teams kickoff coverage units in terms of defending both speed merchants. Smith had a great NFL debut in Miami on Friday, returning his first kickoff 34 yards, followed by an electrifying 74-yarder.
The Buccaneers offense added a playmaking wide receiver in Vincent Jackson this offseason, but with speed just under 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, he is actually more of a possession-type receiver. Fellow newcomer Tiquan Underwood, who has 4.3 speed, is really the only true speed receiver the offense has. Demps’ speed could be a welcome addition in both the passing game and the running game in Tampa Bay.
Gators track coach Mike Holloway was quoted in 2010 saying that Demps would one day play in the NFL.
“In my opinion, Jeff will not be a track guy,” Holloway said. “He’ll be a running back in the NFL. And honestly, that’s what Jeff wants. He wants to be able to contribute to the track program here (at Florida). He wants to help us win the national title. That’s great, but in the big picture Jeff wants to play in the NFL. Football is very important to him and I support that.”
Demps’ career at Florida was impressive as the speedster finished his time in Gainesville as the school’s eighth-leading rusher with 2,470 yards on 367 carries, a 6.7 average, and 23 touchdowns on the ground.
As a receiver out of the backfield, Demps nabbed 57 passes in his career for 481 yards, an 8.4 average.
The Winter Garden, Fla. native’s speed put him position to be an effective kickoff returner for the Gators. Demps averaged 28.8 yards on 61 returns including a career long 99-yard touchdown return his senior season.
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