It was only 14 months ago that University of Maine offensive tackle Jamil Demby watched as a successful “Hail Mary” pass by Stony Brook ruined his “Seniors Day” game on Morse Field in Orono.
The former All-Colonial Athletic Association pick is hoping New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady won’t ruin his Super Bowl next Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Demby is on the Los Angeles Rams’ 53-man roster after being signed off the Detroit Lions’ practice squad on Dec. 12.
“To be with a great group of guys and to be able to make this run in the postseason has been a blessing,” said Demby, who was drafted in the sixth round by the Rams last spring and played in all four preseason games with them before being waived and picked up by the Lions.
The 6-foot-5, 322-pound Demby has a lot of respect for the Patriots and their nine Super Bowl appearances, including five titles in the last 18 years. He thinks it’s going to be a top-notch Super Bowl.
“They have a great coach [Bill Belichick] and we have a great coach,” Demby said of Rams head man Sean McVay. “I think it will be similar to the [Rams]-Saints game. It’s going to be a competitive, all-out game. You have to respect Tom Brady as a player and as a teammate that he has been for the Patriots.”
Demby is only the fifth former Black Bear to be on a Super Bowl roster.
Former UMaine star Mike Flynn was the starting guard for the Baltimore Ravens’ Super Bowl championship team in 2001. Justin Strzelczyk was an offensive lineman on Pittsburgh’s 1996 team that lost to Dallas.
Lofa Tatupu was a linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks in their loss to Pittsburgh in 2006 and defensive end-linebacker Trevor Bates of Westbrook was on New England’s last Super Bowl championship team in 2017.
Demby is not likely to be in uniform for the Super Bowl. He has not been activated for a game with the Rams but practices regularly and rotates in with the first unit. He also sees duty on the scout team which emulates what the opposing offense will run.
“I’m treating this as a redshirt year,” Demby said. “I feel that I have improved so much. I’ve had to learn two different playbooks in my first year and that has helped me mature. When you’re on the scout team, you’re going up against the starting defenses. I feel blessed I’ve been able to go out and test myself and continue to grow.”
A redshirt year refers to a college season in which a player practices with the team but doesn’t play in games. That enables him to develop and adapt to the college game without losing a year of eligibility.
“This was a great opportunity for me to go back to the team that drafted me. They have such a great coaching staff here and great players to learn from,” he said.
When he was reacquired by the Rams, McVay spoke highly of Demby on Ramswire.
“He was a guy that we felt good about. It was a tough decision when you have him on the practice squad and then someone wants to be able to take him and put him on their active roster, but he was a guy that [offensive line coach Aaron Kromer] felt strongly about.
“He had done some nice things throughout the course of the preseason. We kind of had that spot to give. You want to be able to continue to add some depth and he’s somebody that we have some history with that we feel good about.”
Demby has been playing guard for the Rams after being a second-team Football Championship Subdivision All-American and a first team All-CAA tackle as a senior at UMaine.
Demby travels with the Rams team and said it has been a memorable experience.
“I didn’t really win very much in high school or college. But I’ve stuck with it and continued to grow. I tried to be the best teammate and leader I could be at Maine and Vineland High School [in New Jersey].
Demby said the noise level at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans last Sunday was memorable.
The Rams rallied to beat the New Orleans Saints 26-23 in overtime.
“It was one of the loudest environments I’ve ever been in,” Demby said. “It was an insane atmosphere. The fans were high energy.”
The game was mired in controversy as an obvious pass interference infraction by the Rams wasn’t called. It would have enabled the Saints to run down the clock and kick a potential, game-winning field goal.
“So many things happen in a football game. There are so many outside factors,” Demby said. “There are always going to be [disputed] calls.
“You just control what you can control. Like [McVay] said, ‘Don’t blink, keep going, keep grinding, do your job.’”
Demby was ecstatic to see UMaine reach the Football Championship Subdivision national semifinals for the first time in program history last season.
“It was remarkable. It was definitely well-deserved, especially with everything that happened, that terrible tragedy,” Demby said, referring to the death of freshman defensive back Darius Minor as a result of a heart condition during a July training session in Orono.
“The team couldn’t have responded any better. What they did for the family and having the year that they had was remarkable,” Demby said.
“UMaine is definitely in a good place right now. Hopefully, they’ll continue to prove the doubters wrong and have another great season next year,” said Demby, who hopes to do just that with the Rams in 2019.