Finally, we can put all of those Jeff Demps rumors to bed: the senior running back will be playing football for the Gators in 2011, according to both a statement from Will Muschamp and Demps and the man himself on Facebook.
Thus ends a saga that is one of the more stupefying products of a few message boards who take the tiniest threads of logic and attempt to unravel mysteries I have seen in the years I have been a Florida fan and an observer of college football.
Demps is a world-class sprinter with a possible Olympic future, certainly, but nothing he had done in his off-season in 2011 was dramatically different from previous years; that didn't stop overzealous amateur tea-leaf readers from somehow seeing "JEFF DEMPS IS QUITTING FOOTBALL," though.
And their pole vault to conclusions was a huge disservice to Demps, Florida, and the media members they hounded to chase down the story.
"When I came to Florida I wanted to compete at a very high level in both sports and I’ve done that. Football has been my first love, but I also love running track," Demps said in that statement. You remember that one of Demps' primary reasons for picking Florida was Urban Meyer's belief in him as a running back, right? Demps grew up a Florida State fan, but the Seminoles said he was more likely to be a track star than a football stud.
That might still be technically right — Demps could win the Heisman this year and still be considered a fringe NFL prospect because of his size — but Florida smartly said something along the lines of, "Well, Jeff, you can do both." He's done just that in Gainesville, winning national championships in both sports. And he's done it all with dignity, diligence, and a GPA that might be better than mine.
Why would someone that driven and talented quit something he loves? And why would people who have only whispers of their own creation and the megaphone of the Internet spread rumors with maybe an iota of truth to them? These are questions Jeff Demps doesn't have to worry about, not anymore.
And neither do we.