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Demps Gets Around in Comeback for Aztecs

November 07, 2000|STEVE HENSON

The position is rover. The player is Will Demps. Put the two together and the field gets covered for San Diego State.

There's Demps behind the line of scrimmage, making a tackle for a loss. He has 14 this season, twice as many as any teammate.

There's Demps in coverage, intercepting a pass and returning it for a touchdown. He did that Saturday, the key play in a 17-16 comeback victory over New Mexico.

The Lobos led, 16-0, late in the third quarter when Demps picked off a pass by Rudy Caamano and raced untouched to the end zone.

"The turning point," said Ted Tollner, the San Diego State coach. "Any time you are down like that and can manage a score, funny things can happen."

Yes, Demps is all over the field. Yet he had to walk on just to get a uniform.

Demps, a junior, was recruited by several Pacific-10 Conference schools out of Highland High, where he was Golden League defensive player of the year in 1996.

"Oregon State wanted me to be a receiver at the last minute," Demps said. "UCLA picked [linebacker] Ryan Nece instead of me. That didn't give me an option because other schools backed out at the end."

Demps enrolled at San Diego State but didn't go out for football until the following spring. He played on special teams in 1998 and became a backup to All-Mountain West Conference selection Rico Curtis last season.

When he got into a game, his presence was immediately felt. Demps had 40 tackles and returned an interception 73 yards for a touchdown against Wyoming in the season finale.

"That has become the expected standard at our rover position," defensive coordinator Ken Delgado said. "The nature of our scheme calls on our rover to be very, very productive."

Demps met the standard early. In the season opener against Arizona State, he made 15 tackles and was chosen Mountain West player of the week.

Now Demps is considered the Aztecs' most versatile defender. He has 66 tackles, including six against New Mexico, and two interceptions.

"Anyone who comes in as a walk-on and ends up earning a scholarship, that is quite a credit," Tollner said. "Along with that, being one of your defensive leaders.

"You feel good that guys can do that. If they want to make it happen, they can make things happen regardless of how they were recruited."


Anthony Foli, a freshman from Newbury Park who redshirted last season, is also making an impact on defense for San Diego State.

Foli opened the season as a reserve and recorded a sack in the opener against Arizona State. He made his first start two weeks later against Arizona at defensive end and has started at tackle since then.

Foli (6 feet 4, 265 pounds) has 28 tackles.


Players from the region dominated the highlights of Pac-10 games Saturday.

A sampling:

* Washington linebacker Derrell Daniels (San Fernando, Sylmar) was chosen conference co-player of the week after he made 14 tackles in a 35-32 comeback victory over Arizona. Daniels, who also recovered a fumble, leads the Huskies with 85 tackles.

He also is tough to please.

"The fourth quarter was great and I'll take the win, but that means we didn't play well the first three quarters," he said. "We need to work on that."

* Washington receiver Pat Reddick (Newbury Park) made two catches for 17 yards, including a diving snag of a low pass during a key fourth-quarter drive.

Reddick missed the last two seasons because of knee problems and last week made his first catch since 1997.

* USC fullback Chad Pierson (Oxnard) scored the winning touchdown in overtime in a 44-38 victory over Arizona State.

Pierson, a redshirt freshman, got his most extensive playing time this season and responded with 72 yards in 16 carries and two receptions for 29 yards.

* USC receiver Keary Colbert (Hueneme), a freshman, continued to contribute for the Trojans, making six catches for 75 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown.

* UCLA safety Jason Zdenek (Chaminade) returned an interception 56 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter of a 37-35 victory over Stanford.

Zdenek, a fifth-year senior who did not start until this season, ranks second on the Bruins with 52 tackles.

* UCLA tight end Mike Seidman (Westlake), a sophomore, scored his first career touchdown on a 22-yard catch in the third quarter.

* Stanford defensive end Sam Benner (St. Bonaventure) recovered a fumble at the Cardinal nine-yard line with 31 seconds to play. Stanford could not score, however, and fell to 3-6. Benner, a senior, is three-year starter.

* California quarterback Kyle Boller passed for a career-high 349 yards in a 38-32 loss to Oregon State.

* Cal receiver Derek Swafford (Ventura, Ventura College) combined with Boller on an 81-yard touchdown, the longest pass play of the season for the Golden Bears.

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