Jeff Demps, who helped the United States’ 400-meter relay team win silver in London, is expected to choose from his list of NFL suitors by tonight, his agent told the Associated Press. (Demps did not race in the final in London, but did run in preliminary qualifying.)
Demps, 22, played running back for four seasons at Florida but in January announced that he was giving up the sport to concentrate on his track career. He did not attend NFL draft workouts and went undrafted in April.
But now Demps is ready to get back on the field, with a silver medal in his pocket. And several teams, including the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, are reportedly interested in adding a player who rushed for 2,470 yards and 23 touchdowns in Gainesville.
“I’m excited because it’s a good story,” Demps’ agent, Daniel 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?”
ESPNNewYork.com’s Rich Cimini reports that the Jets asked Tim Tebow, Demps’ teammate at Florida, to call Demps in an effort to recruit him.
If Demps can latch on with an NFL team, he would not be the first Olympic track medalist to do so. Bob Hayes won gold in the 100 meters at the 1964 Tokyo Games and landed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame after an accompished 11-year career. James Jett transitioned from gold-medal sprinter in the 400-meter relay at the 1992 Barcelona Games to speedy wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders.
Demps also returned kicks at Florida, where he averaged 28.8 yards per return. And although he will have to play catch-up to learn an NFL offense, his big-play potential could provide an immediate impact on special teams.
“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.”