HOOVER, Ala. -- The certainty around the football future of Florida running back Jeff Demps isn’t so clear anymore.
This spring, coach Will Muschamp was confident that his world-class speedster would be roaming the Gators’ backfield this fall, but after a successful track season and his current trip to Italy with the U.S. national team, Demps’ situation is becoming more and more uncertain.
“He got that opportunity in Italy. I granted him permission to do that,” Muschamp said. “He and I will meet next week to see when he will join our football team in August. I'll update you once he and I speak and talk about that. I expect him to be a part of our football team.”
But it appears that the fastest man in college sports is no longer so confident that he’ll be throwing his pads on this fall. He broke his own school record in the 60-meter dash with a national champion time of 6.53 during the indoor season this spring and also had a wind-aided 9.96 in the 100-meter dash in outdoor competition.
With some slimming down and total dedication to running, Demps would undoubtedly have a bright future in track. He’s never had the offers like he’s had this year in the professional world of track, and it might seem silly for him to turn them down.
Muschamp still wants to sit down with Demps to discuss his options, but his teammates expect to see him on the football field for his senior season.
“I feel confident, very confident,” wide receiver Deonte Thompson said about Demps returning. “Every time I see him he says, ‘I’m coming back, bro.’ So, I think he’s coming back.”
Added quarterback John Brantley: “He loves Florida football. He would do anything for the program and I think he still has that mindset. He’ll make the best decision.”
But when you start discussing Demps’ financial opportunities and a chance at the 2012 Olympics (a goal of his), players understand the magnitude of his decision.
“I’d make the best decision for me and my family,” Thompson said. “If track is best for him at the moment, we’re going to support him regardless of if he doesn’t come back. He’s a part of the Gator Nation, and even if he doesn’t, we’re gonna all support him.”
While he’s showed that he’s nearly unstoppable to catch in open space on the football field, questions about his size (5-foot-8, 181 pounds) and durability could hinder him at the next level. Sure, he’ll get drafted, and at times he’ll be able to do special things with the ball, but his longevity in the league is an uncertainty.
And Demps is far from reaching his track potential with football weight holding him back. Florida track coach Mike Holloway has said in the past that he’d like to have the chance to work with Demps year-round and help mold him into a track star with goals beyond collegiate achievements.
Playing another year of football could seriously diminish his chances of reaching his goal of running in the 2012 Olympics because of the bulk and weight he’d have to shed, while getting his times down even more during the spring.
For Demps, his decision will come down to two things: Will he pursue an occupation in his dream field (football) or will he head the route where he’s most talented (track)?