Jeff Demps picks football this fall

You hear that?

Of course you did.

How could you have missed that deafening sigh of relief that rushed out of Gainesville, Fla., Tuesday after the news broke that speedy senior running back Jeff Demps decided to postpone his professional track career to play football this fall.

The fastest man in college sports will don his collegiate pads for one more season, providing a much-needed home-run threat for Florida's offense.

If Demps finds a hole, you aren't catching him. Don't even think about it.

Demps 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.

That speed has certainly translated well to the football field, as Demps has twice as many 60-plus-yard career rushes (four) than any other player at Florida since 1996. He was one of only nine players in the country last season with a rush of more than 70 yards and a kick return of more than 50.

During Florida's time at SEC media days last week, everyone seemed confident that Demps would return. Despite a successful 2011 track season, and a trip to Italy last week to work out at a camp run by USA Track and Field, Demps went with his heart and chose football over track.

"As I stated last week in Birmingham, Jeff Demps will be joining our football program when our squad reports for camp on Aug. 5 and when we start practice on Aug. 6," coach Will Muschamp said. "I met with him today and Jeff is looking forward to focusing on football for his upcoming senior season."

He loves both, but his dream is playing professional football. Demps could be phenomenal in track if he concentrated solely on it, but it doesn't appear he'd be happy with himself if he didn't at least try his hand at pro football.

"When I came to Florida, I wanted to compete at a very high level in both sports and I've done that," Demps said. "Football has been my first love, but I also love running track. All of my coaches have been supportive and I've always been able to concentrate on whatever sport I'm competing in during that season. I concentrated on track this past spring and summer, and I'm now ready to concentrate on football. I'm looking forward to getting back together with my football teammates and having a great senior season."

What this says about Demps' shot at the 2012 Olympics in London is yet to be seen, but according to ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper, Demps is a top-five running back prospect at the senior level.

London’s track and field events are set to begin in early August, so if he’s willing to miss training camp it won't be impossible to compete in the Olympics if he's drafted.

It wouldn’t be easy, though.

But can Demps be durable enough to have a successful career in the NFL? Last season, he suffered a foot injury in the third week of the season when he carried the ball more than 20 times against Tennessee and was never much of a threat again.

However, when Demps is healthy and has space, it’s game over.

During an injury plagued 2010, Demps led the Gators with 551 rushing yards and has accumulated 1,901 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns on 269 carries during his three years at Florida.