Olympian Jeff Demps close to signing with NFL team
Jeff Demps has an Olympic silver medal. The U.S. track star now wants to make a run at a Super Bowl ring.
Agent Daniel Rose told The Associated Press late Wednesday night that several NFL teams are interested in signing the speedy Demps, a former running back at the University of Florida. Rose said Demps is expected to make a decision by Thursday night.
"I'm excited because it's a good story,'' Rose said. "The guy goes to the Olympics to pursue one of his dreams and he succeeded. Now, he wants to go win a Super Bowl. How can you fault a kid like that?''
Rose wouldn't identify the teams in the mix, but Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano confirmed that the Buccaneers are interested in Demps, who was part of the 400-meter relay team that finished second to Jamaica in London. The New York Jets, with Demps' former college teammate Tim Tebow, also are among the seven or eight teams on the list.
Demps went undrafted in April after announcing in January that was giving up his football career to focus on track and the Olympics. The 22-year-old Demps, who had 2,470 career yards rushing and 23 touchdowns in four seasons with the Gators, did not attend any college football all-star games or take part in any NFL draft workouts to focus on track.
But now, Demps is ready to resume his football career as a professional.
"I think within 24 hours, we're going to get it done,'' Rose said. "Obviously, he wants to get to work. He had some commitments he had to finish up (Wednesday) with the Olympics, and we've been very honest and open with the teams. Now, that's all over with and he can go to sleep and wake up Thursday morning and focus on football.''
Demps makes for an intriguing player who could serve as a change-of-pace back, as well as a top-notch special teamer. At Florida, he averaged 28.8 yards a return during his four-year career. He also won multiple national championships in track and field.
"He's speed,'' Rose said. "The NFL is about speed and there's so much you can do with a guy like that if used correctly. He could be a kick returner, slot receiver, stuff like that. There's gadget plays teams can come up with. If used correctly, he could definitely be a weapon.''
With NFL teams a few weeks into training camp and their second preseason games coming up this weekend, Demps might be a bit behind at this stage. But Rose said that shouldn't be a concern.
"He's definitely in shape,'' he said. "That's a given. He'll have to make the transition and see where it ends up.''
It's not unprecedented for Olympians to play in the NFL. Bob Hayes was a gold medalist in the 100 meters in the 1964 Tokyo Games, and went on to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame after an 11-year NFL career that included 10 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys.
Wide receiver James Jett won gold in the 400-meter relay in the 1992 Barcelona Games and played nine seasons for the Raiders. Renaldo Nehemiah, who played three seasons for San Francisco, was considered the favorite to win the 110-meter hurdles in the 1980 Moscow Games, but the United States boycotted the Olympics along with dozens of other countries.
Six-time Olympic gold medal-winning sprinter Usain Bolt of Jamaica has even been mentioned as a possibility for NFL teams to pursue because of his blazing speed.
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