The Eagles got a safety who had the hands of a wide receiver and a halfback's running ability during the 2008 NFL Draft when they selected UTEP's Quintin Demps.
After finishing his collegiate career with 17 interceptions, two of which he returned 100 yards for touchdowns during his senior season, the third-team All-American was disappointed not to have been chosen earlier than the fourth round.
"I was excited, but I was also kind of mad because I didn't go in the first or second round," Demps says. "I ran a 4.3 (40-yard dash) at the Combine. Nowadays, they're running that like it's nothing. But back then, a safety running a 4.3 was a big deal. I thought I would jump up, for sure. Looking back, I was just being ungrateful. But overall, it was joy and excitement."
Shown the ropes during Training Camp by veterans like Brian Dawkins, Quintin Mikell, and Jason Avant, his welcome to the team moment didn't include embarrassing haircuts or the like. Instead ...
"I think Andy Reid did a good job of controlling the hazing stuff," Demps says. "We didn't really have it as bad as some of the other guys who were rookies that year on different teams. All we had to do was take our position group out to eat and pay for the whole tab for the whole night. I don't remember exactly how much it was. I know it was five digits, though."
Contributing mostly on special teams during his first season, Demps made his mark in Week 12 at Baltimore when he put the Eagles on the scoreboard late in the first half with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. It was something Philadelphia hadn't done in seven seasons and only the 23rd time in the team's history.
"I remember they were beating us," Demps says, "and a defensive end by the name of Darren Howard, he pulled me to the side and said, 'Man, go score this touchdown for us.' And he looked me in the eye like dead serious. So, sure enough, that's what happened."
Demps finished his rookie season tied for fourth in the NFL with 52 kick returns for 1,314 yards, which is second all time in team history to Allen Rossum's 1,347 yards in 1999.
Unfortunately, hamstring and ankle injuries disrupted Demps' second season.
"I hated being injured," he says. "As I got older and I got more professional, I was able to control my attitude towards the injury. But back then, I was mad I was hurt. I just pressed through the best I could."
Though Demps may have missed seven games in 2009, it didn't keep him from collecting his first career interception in Week 8 against the division-rival Giants at Lincoln Financial Field. His 12-yard return led to a touchdown pass from Donovan McNabb to Jeremy Maclin on the next play in a 40-17 victory.
"Oh, yeah, it was cool. I've got the ball still, too," Demps says. "Picking off Eli Manning, it was great."
With the Eagles for two seasons, Demps went on to play eight more with the Texans, Chiefs, Giants, and Bears. He finished his career with 18 interceptions and 110 kick returns for a 26.6-yard average and three touchdowns.
Moving from the field to the sideline in 2020, Demps began his coaching career as a defensive coordinator at Grayslake (Illinois) Central High School. The following year, he was the defensive backs coach at Trinity International University. And last season, he was the defensive backs coach at Judson University, an NAIA school in Elgin, Illinois.
Having been there and done that has been advantageous for Demps in his second gridiron career – coaching young players.
"That gives me credibility," Demps says. "They know that I know what I'm talking about. I'm not just saying something just to be saying it. (And what I enjoy the most is) just the joy I get from telling the guys how to do something and then seeing them do it. And seeing them get success from doing it. It's a joy like no other."
Demps is in line to continue experiencing even more joy at Judson University, where in February he became a first-time head coach.
"I'm super excited. Super excited to climb the ranks. That's definitely satisfying," he says. "Coaching is just like playing ball. You've got to earn your respect. You've got to pay your dues. This is my fourth year coaching, so I've just kept going. Climbing the ladder.
"I'm from Texas and football is how we survive. So I just knew at some point that I needed my own territory, and I'm excited to finally get that."
Demps has his own territory and a map. Directions on how to do things from the 10 years of experiences he had with the different coaches he played for in the NFL.
"I picked stuff up from Andy Reid, Gary Kubiak, Tom Coughlin, John Fox, all those guys. I pulled from every single one of them. And even from Deion (Sanders), what he's doing right now (as the new head coach at the University of Colorado)," Demps says.
"But I'll be myself from that aspect of it. I'll pull from that, but make it my own. Be myself within the parameters. But the best thing about it is I finally can say that I am walking in my life's purpose. I'm just continuing with being myself, and it's a good feeling."