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Road To Pasadena: Jeff Demps

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Time to be pessimistic for a moment. In the Gators' backfield, you have Andre Debose and his possible hamstring surgery, Chris Rainey and his minor injuries and white girls, and Emmanuel Moody thinking that his injuries are a sign from God to quit football. And you thought wide receiver was a problem?

That leaves us with the best athlete on the team, the only one who can truly be considered "world class"; Jeff Demps.

Demps was the anchor leg on Florida's SEC Championship 4x100 meter relay team and has ran a 10.01 in the 100m. He would have been on the Gators' NCAA winning team, had he not been bothered by a hamstring injury, which is now healed. Demps runs upright, like a good sprinter, but at 5-foot-8, his height keeps him low. Demps can make cuts much easier than most guys who have tried to balance between track and football speed. (LSU's Trindon Holliday, who ran 10.00 at the NCAA Championships, is the same way. He is also short at 5-foot-5.)

As we have seen with Usain Bolt, track athletes can simultaneously be the most driven guy and most demonstrative guy in the group. For all of Bolt's showboating, he refuses to lose. Demps is the same way. His desire to be Urban Meyer's first 1000-yard rusher was well documented this summer and if Debose, Rainey and Moody can not take any carries, Demps' quest for 1000 will be legit. After rushing for 605 yards in 2008, 1000 seems on the Moon, but if Demps averages about 10 carries per game instead of the six he got last year, the 1000 yard barrier can fall.

The ultimate reason why Demps will be successful this season and in his career at UF, is that he runs hard, refusing to go down. In 2008, he did not tip-toe through holes, or aim for the sidelines. With a little extra weight to absorbe the punishment, Demps will be even harder to tackle. If the Gators get to the BCS Championship Game, it will be because of Demps taking the challenge of the running game, and pushing that 1000-yard mark.