What Jeff Demps Can Learn From Another Track Athlete Who Moved from Sprinting to Being Tackled


Jan 2, 2012; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida Gators running back Jeff Demps (28) runs the ball past Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Etienne Sabino (6) during the first quarter of the 2012 Gator Bowl at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

For those of you who don’t know, Carlin Isles is an ex-sprinter who has been taking over the Rugby world. When I saw this video of him, I couldn’t help compare Isles to the Buccaneer’s United States track star Jeff Demps.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ return men haven’t been that impressive except for Michael Smith, but he won’t play due to injury and because the coaching staff hasn’t shown a lot of faith in him, anyways. I also don’t like the idea of Mike Williams returning punts because of the injury risk; even though he has hands and elusiveness to be good.

What makes this so exciting is that Demps is faster than Isles (who started playing rugby because he couldn’t qualify for the Olympics). Demps lit up teams in the SEC with his speed. In college Demps ran a 9.96 in the 100 meters to win the 2010 outdoor individual national championship in that event, that win made Demps the only student-athlete in Florida history to win national championships in two different sports. He made the fastest football division look slow. 

Jan 2, 2012; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida Gators running back Jeff Demps (28) runs the ball during the second half of the 2012 Gator Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes at EverBank Field. Florida won, 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

What makes Demps so exciting is that unlike Isles is that he doesn’t lose his speed on the football field. Isles plays Rugby 7’s which is a style of rugby that resolves all-around speed, because there’s more open space compared to 11-player rugby.

In contrast, Demps has the strength and agility necessary to cut and be elusive and run in-between tackles. While at Florida Demps saw action in 51 games during his career as a Gator. Demps finished eighth all-time at UF with 2,470 yards rushing on 367 carries, a 6.7 average, and 23 rushing touchdowns.

He showed an ability to catch passes and to catch kicks and punts. Demps recorded 57 receptions for 481 yards (8.4 avg.). Also unlike Isles who  just appears to run on right angles, Demps showed amazing vision while playing college football. In fact Demp’s recorded has twice as many 60-plus yard career rushes (four) than any other Gator since 1996. So I feel extremely confident in his ability to read the gaps in special team coverages.

If Demps can be half as effective as a football player as Isles has been as a rugby player, I won’t care if he only plays 16 games and doesn’t practice. Because all he needs to do it return around 30 punts and 30 kicks. You cant coach speed like this anyway.