Florida Gators Football: Thoughts and Observations on Offseason Activity

John PattonContributor IJanuary 24, 2012

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 26:  Running back Chris Rainey #1 of the Florida Gators rushes upfield against the Florida State Seminoles November 26, 2011 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  FSU won 21 - 7.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

It hasn't exactly been the quietest of offseasons in Gainesville.

Aside from the usual hysteria about recruiting, a new offensive coordinator (Brent Pease, formerly of Boise State) has been hired, and former running back Jeff Demps has decided to shelve football (for now, at least) in hopes of earning a spot on this summer's United States' Olympic team.

Here are a few thoughts and observations.

1. I totally get Demps' decision, one I wrote about last summer.

He is a talented kid who actually is a better track athlete than he is a football player.

That said, there are only so many available slots for sprinters on the Olympic team, while there are 32 starting tailbacks and between 60-80 backups on NFL rosters. The same goes, except with even more open spots, for wide receivers (where Demps could be given a look).

If the NFL ever is going to be there for Demps, who was the fastest teenage sprinter in the history of American sports, it can wait.

Still, I was curious to see what kind of 40-yard dash time he would have put up at the NFL Scouting Combine.

2. Speaking of the 40 at the combine, I am very curious to see what Chris Rainey does in Indianapolis.

One of the funnier things former Gator coach Urban Meyer used to say was that UF had the fastest player in the country (Demps) and another who thinks he's the fastest in the country (Rainey).

A few years back, Florida listed Rainey's 40 time as 4.24, which is faster than the fastest time recorded at the 2011 combine (4.28 by Miami cornerback DeMarcus VanDyke). Rainey's alleged mark also equals the fastest 40 ever run at the combine (shared by Chris Johnson and Rondel Melendez).

3. Rainey, defensive tackle Jaye Howard and former UF cornerback Janoris Jenkins will compete for the South team in the upcoming Senior Bowl.

It is early in the evaluation process, but at this point, Jenkins looks like he will be a first- or second-round selection in April's NFL Draft, while Rainey and Howard could be mid-round picks.

Personally, I think Howard—the most productive of Florida's deep group of defensive linemen in 2011is underrated and will be a starter on someone's team within the next two years.