Sunday, April 17, 2016

After Four Years At Basketball, Demps Returns To Football

Sure it was just the spring game for Sacramento State Hornet football, but most folks attending - and even participating in - the annual scrimmage were interested in watching the wide receiver wearing the #1 jersey, Cody Demps.

It's been four years since he last wore football gear. That was as the starting quarterback for the Pleasant Grove Eagles. He led his high school team to a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship. But, Demps was a fine high school basketball player, too, and caught the eyes of Coach Brian Katz at Sac State.

Demps signed a National Letter-of-Intent and played on the hardcourts of the Nest the next four years, with football just a fond memory. He played in 104 straight games, starting 75 of those before a leg injury knocked him out of ten games this past season. Demps did return to lead the Hornets into the Big Sky Tournament, averaging 12.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists a game. Through his leadership and local following, Demps helped move Sac State basketball into the forefront after years of obscurity in the busy local sports scene.
Cody Demps, the likely-Hornet football player

There's a little-known NCAA rule which allows a student/athlete who has played up their four years of eligibility to have a fifth season in another sport as long as the athlete is still enrolled in classes. That's exactly Demps' situation.
Cody Demps, the basketball player

Needing a couple more classes before he can graduate, Demps needs to hang around the Sac State campus. But, before he begins to explore a possible professional basketball career Demps wanted the opportunity to see what it would be like to play Big Sky Conference football.

For Demps donning the football gear once again was, well, just like riding a bicycle.

"One thing that's different is using your hands," he explained. "In basketball you have to keep your hands off the other guy. Here, you got to use them to get separation."

He said wide receiver is new to him, but having younger brother Wyatt, a receiver at Nevada-Reno, around has helped. Wyatt has shared some game film with him.

But, there is a play now in the Hornet playbook just for Cody. It's where Demps gets the ball on a reverse and then he pulls up and passes the ball. It didn't work on Saturday.

"They tried to get it in there today, it didn't work out too well," Demps laughed.

No one is more excited to have Demps around than Hornet head coach Jody Sears.

"I think it's a credit to the gifts and talents that he's been blessed with," Sears said. "To be able to come out here and do what he does after finishing a college basketball career and then come out here and be productive at the collegiate level, it is absolutely amazing."

Sears said early in the spring there was one play during a scrimmage where he knew Demps would be a real addition to the team. Running a route in the end zone, Demps out-jumped double coverage and snatched the pass above his defenders.

"I treated it just like a rebound," Demps laughed.

Sears is glad to just have Demps around the locker room, particularly with the fact there are lots of first- and second-year players on the field for the Hornets.

"A great kid, with tremendous work ethic and a great person," Sears noted. "He's an engineering student and to come out here and do what he is doing is a testament to him. To have that maturity and leadership is extremely positive."

What Demps looks to be doing is finding a starting spot in the Hornets' spread offense, which at times, sputtered in 2015, a season in which Sac State was 2-9.

Sears said after the first couple practices this spring it was evident that Demps would join his father Chris as one who would strap it up for Hornet football. The elder Demps was a defensive lineman for the Hornets in the late 1980s.
Hornet head coach Jody Sears

"I told Chris, 'He is not a fish out of water,'" Sears said. "He has soft hands, runs good pass routes, and he's 6-4, 195 pounds. I imagine over the course of the off-season, he'll be plenty ready."

Sears already has Demps penciled in for getting plenty of playing time once the football season rolls around in late August.

Demps would love that opportunity.

"Competition breeds success and coach has made it clear that we need to be gym rats and get stronger and better," he said. "That's what breeds championships."

Demps wasn't the only local players shining during Saturday's scrimmage. Another former Eagle, Dre Terrell, came up with an interception. He's trying to nail down a starting spot in the Hornet secondary. Elk Grove's Manny Scott-Anderson started at safety as a true freshman a year ago. One of the two quarterbacks who played Saturday during the spring game was former Sheldon Huskie, Nolan Merker.

Sears credited his recruiting coordinator, Fred Kelley, with getting lots of local players to come play Hornet football.

"We don't miss on very many kids," Sears said. "Freddie does a very thorough job in the area. And, we need to get local kids. There's enough talent here to win a championship."

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