After much speculation, the New England Patriots have surprisingly signed London Olympic track star and silver medalist Jeff Demps. A former star running back for the Florida Gators, Demps rushed for 23 touchdowns with nearly 3,000 all-purpose yards for the team. Demps is a premier returner who will greatly upgrade a big position of need for the Pats, the return game.
It was surprising to see the Patriots sign Demps, solely because there wasn’t much of an indication that they were after them; it was all speculation that seemed to make sense. I guess it all made sense to the Pats as well, as they have signed him two days before he was expected to choose a team. On the Pats, Demps will be reunited with three former teammates in Brandon Spikes, Aaron Hernandez, and Jermaine Cunningham. Jabar Gaffney and Gerard Warren are also former Gators but played before Demps’s time.
Jeff Demps brings a much-needed presence on kick-off returns for the Patriots, as Danny Woodhead just wasn’t getting it done as the team’s best returners. When asked to give a scouting report on Demps, head coach Bill Belichick said, “I think it’s pretty well documented. He’s a running back that’s returned kicks that’s fast. I’m sure you could dig that out.”
When talking about if kick-off returns still mattered, Belichick said, “It’s an important area in the game, a big momentum play. It’s a way to answer the opponents’ score or the start of the half, whatever the situation is there. It’s a big play in the game. We put a lot of stock in that, just like we do every other play.”
Gotta love BB.
Anyway, the addition of Jeff Demps will cost the Pats a roster spot, so it will be interesting to see who gets cut, in essence, to allow Demps on the roster. Besides kick-off returns, the insanely fast RB can also be used as a receiver in certain situations and was once a successful back in the SEC. And when I say successful, I mean great. Demps’s speed is obvious to see, and his burst in the open field and on the sideline are game-changing. He’s mainly a straight-line speed player, but boy, can he run.
Tim Tebow was reportedly recruiting Demps to the New York Jets, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a heavy amount of interest in the RB as well. But he has chosen the Patriots, and some people are bringing up the Belichick-Urban Meyer connection. All I have to say is, here’s our impact returner.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.