|It appears Demps is headed for New England to begin his NFL career. (US PRESSWIRE)|
Jeff Demps is a sprinter, an Olympic silver medalist and a former Florida Gators running back. And by Friday afternoon, he'll be the newest member of the New England Patriots, according to Kevin O'Donnell of Fox 13 Sports in Tampa Bay.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport tweets that, per one of Demps' agents, the sprinter will indeed sign with New England. Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Times' Stephen Holder tweets this: "There (are) rumors to the contrary, but Jeff Demps' agent says client has not yet signed w(ith) an NFL club." It's unclear if Rapoport and Holder spoke to the same agent.
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The Buccaneers were also very interested in Demps, who rushed for 2,470 yards and 23 touchdowns while in Gainesville. O'Donnell writes that Demps ultimately decided on New England because it was a better fit for his skills, adding that the "Bucs made a strong push for (him)" and that "they had been in discussions with his representatives for months."
During a Friday news conference prior to an official announcement regarding Demps' signing, Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio offered this assessment of the former Florida runner (via ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss).
“Good with the ball, good speed, caught the ball OK, a little bit undersized. But they had some good offensive players (at Florida) -- he and [Chris] Rainey split some time so they kind of used them in different ways.”
Regarding Demps as a kick returner, Caserio said, "He had a little bit of production. How that translates over, the schemes are different. Any returner that comes into the NFL, whatever they did in college schematically is probably going to be a lot different than what we're going to ask him to do.”
According to Reiss, Caserio said there was no official transaction to report, which follows since Demps hasn't yet signed his contract.
Demps didn't attend the Senior Bowl or February's combine or any other pre-draft workouts, but as the old saying goes "You can't coach speed." Instead, he focused on the summer Olympics where he didn't get a chance to compete in the 4x100 but still earned a medal for his participation during prelims.
"I just wanted to come out and have fun and enjoy the moment," he said, according to USA Track and Field. "There was no pressure. I was just excited."
With that chapter of his life now closed, Demps is looking ahead to a new career that also involves running as fast as he can. Except this time, there will be guys trying to tackle him.
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