Jeff Demps is going to give professional football a go!
Demps, a former South Lake High School and University of Florida standout, reported to the National Football League’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week and is practicing with the team.
A member of Team USA’s 4x100 relay team at the 2012 Summer Olympics — which earned a silver medal in the event — Demps turned up in Tampa earlier this week to begin working with the Buccaneers’ coaching staff and learning the team’s offensive schemes.
He practiced with the team for the first time on Wednesday and has been assigned jersey number 32.
Daniel Rose, Demps’ agent, told the Tampa Bay Times on Monday that his client is, “excited,” with his opportunity to play for the Buccaneers.
According the league’s collective bargaining agreement with the players union, Demps can practice with the Buccaneers for two weeks before the team has to make a decision about putting him on the 53-man roster. He can be activated during the two-week period.
Demps returned from Italy last week and prepared to report to the Buccaneers, Rose said. According to Rose, Demps is in “great physical condition” and has been working out five hours a day. Rose said Demps should have little trouble transforming himself from a competitive sprinter to a football player.
Rose believes Demps will pick up the Buccaneers’ offensive system quickly. He said the former running back at Florida had few problems learning New England’s offense after he signed a free-agent contract with the Patriots during the 2012 preseason.
“If you can learn the New England system, you can learn any system in the National Football League,” Rose said.
Demps was acquired by the Buccaneers on April 27 in a trade with the Patriots. New England acquired running back LeGarrette Blount in the deal and Tampa Bay received Demps and a seventh-round draft choice, a selection later traded to Minnesota for the Vikings’ sixth-round pick.
A member of Florida’s 2008 Bowl Championship Series national championship team and a holder of multiple collegiate track titles with the Gators, Demps said he wanted to compete in both sports.
He did not make himself available in the 2012 NFL Draft, choosing instead to concentrate on earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in London.
New England, reportedly, did not look favorably upon Demps’ desire to continue running track after the Olympics. The team guaranteed Demps more than $200,000 in a three-year contract .
It is unclear if Demps’ plans to run track led to the trade. Tampa Bay officials were receptive to his plans to run professionally and agreed to let him report to the team after he wrapped up his track commitments.
However, head coach Greg Schiano appeared to be frustrated in August after Demps failed to report following the IAAF World Championships in Moscow.
“Supposedly he’s coming. I don’t know. We’ll see,” Schiano said. “I don’t worry about guys that are not here, you know? So he’s not helping us get better right now. He’s out there running track somewhere. So, if he’s going to do that — if he gets here and helps us win he will be part of it. If he gets here and can’t help us win, he can go back and run track. We are here to win games.”
Rose said Demps and Tampa Bay general manager Mark Domanik stayed in touch while he was running track in Europe. Rose also said Demps likely will continute to compete in both sports.Demps spent the 2012 regular season on injured reserve after suffering an injury during the preseason.