UPDATED: Jets chase Olympic sprinter Jeff Demps

(Photo credit: US PRESSWIRE)

AS OF 8/17: NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport is reporting that former University of Florida running back and Olympic silver medalist Jeff Demps has agreed to a deal with the New England Patriots, per one of Demps’ agents.

This report conflicts with the Tampa Bay Times’ Stephen Holder who tweeted this around the time of Rappaport: “There (are) rumors to the contrary, but Jeff Demps’ agent says client has not yet signed w(ith) an NFL club.”

CORTLAND, N.Y. — Olympic track star and former University of Florida running back Jeff Demps has drawn interest from several NFL teams, including the New York Jets, per ESPNNewYork.com

Head coach Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum have put a premium on improving team speed this offseason — a glaring piece missing from their 2011 puzzle.  Demps, a silver medalist  in the London Olympics for the men’s 4×100 relay, offers blazing speed.

A former teammate of Tim Tebow’s, the Jets’ newest back-up quarterback sensation, Demps not only offers speed, but versatility as well. At 5-7, 175 pounds he fits the mold of the Chief’s Dexter McCluster or the Saints’ Darren Sproles.

Could Olympian Jeff Demps be the newest Jets offensive weapon?

Pro Football Weekly listed the good, the bad and the ugly on Demps: (YouTube collegiate highlight reel)

A versatile, super-quick slasher with turbo speed and a shredded physique, Demps is a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball, as he rips off yards in big chunks. Will have to be used strategically to maintain his durability, but can be a dynamic utility player and mismatch weapon as a change-of-pace back, slot receiver and returner.

Short and small-framed with very small hands. Limited run strength — too easily turned on contact or tripped up. Marginal inside runner. Never carried 100 times in a season. Is a bit straight-linish and does not string moves together. Could stand to refine route-running ability. Underpowered blocker. Questionable mental and physical toughness. May take some time to grasp a playbook.

The 22-year-old speedster ditched the NFL Draft in April and dashed toward his dream of chasing Olympic gold. A decision his agent, Daniel Rose, told the Tampa Bay Times was difficult for him to talk Demps out of.

“At 22 years old, how could you tell a kid not to go to the Olympics?”, Rose said.

Rose would go on to say there were “a lot” of teams interested prior to the draft and cited the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as one of “several” teams interested in Demps.

He expects a decision to be made soon.

At the University of Florida Demps was a four-year, two-sport stand out. On the football field he amassed 2,470 yards and 23 touchdowns on the ground, 481 receiving yards and averaged 28.8 yards as a threat in the kick return game. He never averaged lower than 5.8 yards per carry in college. Demps is the only Florida Gator athlete to have won national championships in two sports with his 2009 BCS National Championship and multiple indoor and outdoor track titles over his four year career.

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