Jamil Demby is hearing a lot from his friends in Maine these days.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “They’re all telling me how much they love the Patriots. But they’re still going to root for me on Sunday.”

The former University of Maine offensive lineman is a rookie for the Los Angeles Rams, who will take on the New England Patriots on Sunday night in Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta. He likely won’t be in uniform – he hasn’t dressed for a game this year – but the excitement of being on pro football’s biggest stage is evident in his voice.

“I mean, it’s a blessing,” Demby said by phone last week. “That’s all I can say. It’s a beautiful thing that God has done for me and the position he has put me in. To be here is amazing.”

Demby, 22, had an interesting rookie year. Drafted by the Rams in the sixth round last April, he made the team’s 53-man roster out of training camp. But two days before the season opener, he was waived when Los Angeles activated defensive star Aaron Donald.

Three days later, Demby was claimed by the Detroit Lions, reuniting him with former UMaine teammate Trevor Bates. He was waived by the Lions a week later, but re-signed to their practice squad on Sept. 20. He remained there until Dec. 12 when the Rams – who needed offensive line depth – claimed him off the Lions practice squad and put him on the 53-man roster.

And now, he’s at the Super Bowl.

“To find my way back and for them to bring me back was amazing,” said Demby. “It was like I never left.”

So it was that Demby found himself soaking in Super Bowl Open Night – once known as Media Day – on Monday. He entered State Farm Arena with a smile and recorded almost every moment he was there.

“It was insane,” said Demby, who was challenged to a standing-up arm-wrestling contest by one media member (yes, Demby won) and interviewed by a couple of others. “I didn’t know what to expect.”

Demby is the fifth former UMaine football player to be on a Super Bowl team, joining center Mike Flynn (Baltimore Ravens, 2001), offensive tackle Justin Strzelczyk (Pittsburgh Steelers, 1996), linebacker Lofa Tatupu (Seattle Seahawks, 2006) and Bates (Patriots practice squad, 2017).

Jack Cosgrove, now the football coach at Colby College, recruited Demby when he was the head coach at Maine. He said Demby worked to earn a spot in the NFL.

“Jamil was really that kid who had the big heart and the great work ethic and the great attitude,” said Cosgrove. “He did all the things right. He lifted and made himself into an outstanding football player and look where he is now.

“It makes you feel really good in regards to knowing this kid as a high school senior and seeing where he is now. It’s really impressive.”

Demby was a four-year starter for the Black Bears, earning his spot right away as a true freshman. He was an all-Colonial Athletic Association first-team choice as a senior.

Maine head coach Nick Charlton said Demby’s hand was still in the Black Bears success this year, when they advanced to the national semifinals.

“He was a big leader on our team,” he said. “He set an example for our younger players that in a lot of ways positioned us to be where we were this year. … To have someone in the Super Bowl is big for us. He is a great ambassador of our program.”

Since rejoining the Rams, Demby has been working with the first unit or playing on the scout team. Either way, he feels his game has improved.

“It’s all part of my growth,” he said. “It has helped me and my game. It has helped me mentally and going against and playing with the best has certainly helped me physically.”

Having to learn two playbooks this year allowed Demby to have a better appreciation of concepts and what teams are trying to do with their offensive schemes.

“I have just been trying to focus on myself,” he said. “I want to build on my weaknesses. I’m trying to learn as much as I can from the older guys, see the things they do and take what works for me.”

The 6-foot-5 Demby, from Vineland, New Jersey, said he has also learned his most comfortable playing weight. He’s actually lost 15 pounds from his college days.

“When I’m at the 315-320- (pound) range, I’m at my best,” he said.

He knows the Rams have a challenge in facing the Patriots, playing in their fourth Super Bowl in five years and third in a row. But he said a lot of people don’t realize the challenges that the Rams faced this year, mentioning the shooting at a bar in nearby Thousand Oaks that killed 12 people and the California wildfires that burned nearby.

“We’ve had hardships to overcome,” he said. “And everyone stuck together to get here.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

filed under: