Lucas at Large: Fastest Badger? Bennett in a blur

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Bennett_action_oregon.jpgFor the fourth consecutive year, University of Florida running back Jeff Demps has been "crowned" the fastest player in college football. Demps is a 5-foot-8, 181-pound senior speedster.

Last season, he led the Gators in rushing with 551 yards (6.0 ypc.) and was one of only nine players nationally with a run of over 70 yards and a kick return of over 50. He has 22 career starts.

Demps comes by his speed naturally as a sprinter on the Florida track team. In 2010, he won the 100 meters at the NCAA outdoor meet; a crown that he failed to defend last week in Des Moines, Iowa.

Demps was third in his heat and didn't make the finals; proving that he's no Tyson Gay, no Ato Boldon, and no Ngonidzashe Makusha; the Florida State sprinter who won the 100 in 9.89 seconds.

But there's no doubting Demps' speed on the gridiron - as confirmed by Heismanpundit.com, which ranked him No. 1 based on times that he has already posted, including a 10.1 in the 100 meters.

Rounding out the Top 5 are Texas' Marquise Goodwin, Louisiana-Monroe's Luther Ambrose, North Carolina State's T.J. Graham and UCLA's Randall Carroll. All are wide receivers.

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson and Penn State kick return specialist Devon Smith received honorable mention recognition; the only Big Ten players among the 30 listed by the web site.
    
That begs the question, "Who's the fastest of the fast in UW football history?"

Topping the list would be tailback Michael Bennett, who won the 2000 Big Ten title in the 100 meters with a clocking of 10.22 seconds. That same spring, he also ran a wind-aided 10.0

Prior to Bennett's arrival in Madison, the school record-holder was wide receiver Tony Simmons, who also won a conference title in the 100 meters (10.29). He ran a wind-aided 10.15.

Rounding out my UW list would be cornerback Lawrence Johnson (10.37); running back/receiver Shawn Peters (10.50) and wide receiver Reggie Torian, who was a faster hurdler than sprinter.

Johnson and Peters won Big Ten titles in the 100 meters. Torian was timed at 6.29 seconds over 55 meters at an indoor meet. Johnson ran 6.2 over 60 yards. So did Billy Smith, another football player.

Rick Reichardt was an outstanding high school sprinter who wound up concentrating on football and baseball when he competed for the Badgers. Reichardt had great speed. So did Crazylegs for his era.

In the mid-'90s, the Big Ten sprint field was a "Who's Who" of football players: Touchdown Tony Simmons, Michigan's Tyrone Wheatley, Ohio State's Butler By'not'e and Chris Sanders, Minnesota's Chris Darkins and Omar Douglas, Michigan State's Octavius Long and Indiana's Jermaine Chaney.

In 1994, the 6-1, 225-pound Wheatley upset Torian, then a freshman, in the 110-meter high hurdles at the Big Ten outdoor meet on the Dan McClimon Memorial Track.

Said Wheatley, "I really can't train or dedicate myself to track as much as I would like since my religious beliefs have been football, football, and football. But I'm still an athlete and I love to compete."

The "time" factor - or rather finding the time - applies to most two-sport athletes.

Bennett was once asked, "When you're racing the wind, do you hear the wind?''

Bennett smirked and said, "It's like a football game. You hear the crowd before the play. But once you get the ball, you don't hear anything during the play. In track, during a sprint, once the gun goes off, you don't hear anything. Your eyes are pulling you to the finish line."

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2 Comments

I think that Jerry Butler Kid has the record for fastest 40 though?

BJ - 10.35 100 meters

Reggie Torian - 13.26 110H, 26'2" - Have to be crazy fast to hit those numbers...probably 10.2-10.3

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