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Gators Rebuilding 2010: Can Jeff Demps become a star?

We continue our season preview, "Gators Rebuilding 2010." Until kickoff on Sept. 4 against Miami-Ohio, we will have a series of posts on players, positions and factors that will determine the Gators' success or failure this season. For all previous posts tagged as "Gators Rebuilding 2010" click here.

Urban Meyer has said repeatedly that the Gators will look more traditional, a movement which actually began last season. The Gators in the last two seasons have been a fast backfield and great offensive line. We may want to throw the ball downfield, but the Gators will have a lot easier time of moving the ball in 5-6 yard bursts from the backfield. 

Jeff Demps might be the benefactor of the Gators' throwback style. While Florida is likely to spread it around with Emmanuel Moody and Mike Gillislee, neither of them is the dynamic back that Demps is. Demps' world class speed can make him the difference maker for UF.

In his previous two seasons, Demps has averaged about 7.5 yards per carry. He has also moved from 78 to 99 carries (95 and 109 touches) from freshman to sophomore years. Here's the thing with Demps; at 5'8", 190 does he have the body for 125-150 touches? If Demps becomes the hot hand, will UF stick with him?

Aside from Percy Harvin and Aaron Hernandez, there has not be a UF player under Meyer that was seen as a hot hand. Those players, no matter the situation, were given a chance to make a play either by design or by Leak/Tebow. At running back, Meyer has rolled his players like a hockey line. Meyer will likely do that again. However, Demps has to be a focus.

If Demps becomes a star worthy of his talent, UF will win a lot of games. If the Gators get to the midway point as a running team, it will open up the offense and allow time for John Brantley and his receivers to develop. Florida will score in bunches and it will be from Demps becoming a star in Florida's offense.