1. Archive


Track season doesn't end until August. Only then will the ex-Gator focus on football.

Jeff Demps likely would not have been able to pursue both of his passions with the Patriots.

But he might get the chance in Tampa Bay.

Thrown in as an afterthought in Saturday's LeGarrette Blount trade with the Patriots (which also netted a seventh-round draft choice), the former Gator comes to the Bucs as they try to satisfy their yearlong curiosity about the dual-sport star.

But if they truly want to find out what the scat back can do on the football field, the Bucs likely will have to tolerate Demps' exploits on the track, too. That's something the Patriots weren't willing to do.

"Track and field is not a money thing for Jeff," his agent, Daniel Rose, said. "He just loves track and wants to do it. But Tampa Bay has been great. I think they're okay with it."

Bucs general manager Mark Dominikwas noncommittal.

"We've talked to Jeff a little bit," he said. "We understand what he's doing. We're just taking his rights to see what happens."

Demps, who graduated from Groveland South Lake High, rushed for 23 touchdowns at Florida. He won asilver medal as part of the 4x100-meter relay at the London Olympics in August, helping it set an American record of 37.38 seconds in a preliminary.

He returned to the United States with a renewed focus on football, declaring himself a free agent. The Bucs were among several teams to express interest, but Demps signed with the Patriots.

That's when he made a further impression on the Bucs.

When the Patriots traveled to Tampa last preseason for joint practices, Demps had a strong showing. He followed that up with a well-rounded performance in their preseason game, rushing three times for 41 yards, returning a kickoff 23 yards and a punt 16 yards.

"We watched him at the University of Florida, and we followed what was going on with the Olympics," Dominik said. "The thing we know is he's a compact, powerful but very fast runner who has the versatility and very soft hands. He does a lot of things that are intriguing."

That includes his pursuit of both track and football careers.

On Saturday, Demps competed at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia and was part of a 400 relay that finished third behind another American team and a Jamaican team.

With the track season extending through the summer, Demps might not be in position to participate in much of the Bucs' offseason program or even training camp. The last major event, the world championships in Moscow, are Aug. 10-18. So it's conceivable Demps, 23, could return in time to play in the regular season.

"I have a good feeling he'll be in a uniform this year," Rose said. "Will it be Week 1? I don't know. But I think he'll be playing."

Either way, Demps has no plans to walk away from track.

"He's going to finish the track season," Rose said, "and then he wants to go play football."

Signings: The Bucs signed two undrafted free agents from Purdue: former Plant High quarterback Robert Marve and running back Akeem Shavers.