Demens was a part of Michigan's class of 2008, committing in September 2007 before Lloyd Carr retired. He picked Michigan over offers from Iowa, Michigan State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin, among others. He attended Detroit (MI) Country Day with backfield mate Jonas Gray, who ended up at Notre Dame; Demens doubled as a fullback and linebacker for Country Day, and I had the experience of watching both of them play. Not knowing who they were, I said, "Wow, these guys are going to be playing Division I ball next year." They turned out to be sophomores at the time. Demens closed the 2008 recruiting cycle as a Rivals 4-star, the #23 outside linebacker, and the #8 player in the state. Scout pegged him as a 4-star and the #23 weakside linebacker.
Demens redshirted as a freshman in 2008. As a redshirt freshman in 2009, he played sparingly and notched just 7 tackles. He was a backup middle linebacker in 2010 until Rich Rodriguez got fed up with the lack of development from starter Obi Ezeh, and Demens was forcefully inserted into the lineup, earning his first start against Iowa. As a backup prior to that and a starter for the rest of the year, Demens outplayed Ezeh to tally 82 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 1 pass breakup in just seven starts. With the arrival of new defensive coordinator Greg Mattison in 2011, Demens started every game and led the team with 94 tackles, adding 5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 2 pass breakups. He once again started all thirteen games in 2012, but he lost some playing time to freshman Joe Bolden due to early-season underperformance; Demens still finished with 82 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, and 1 interception.
266 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 interception, 3 pass breakups, and 1 forced fumble
All-Big Ten Honorable Mention, Zatkoff Award winner (team's best linebacker) in 2011
I initially thought Demens was not a Michigan-caliber starter at middle linebacker. I thought he was too slow and not instinctive enough. But he was clearly a step up from Obi Ezeh. He had a solid redshirt junior season in 2011, and I thought maybe, just maybe, he had met up with the right coaching staff to maximize his talents. And maybe he did maximize those talents, but his senior season was just so-so. While you can't expect a college linebacker to play every single meaningful down, he lost some playing time in key moments to freshman Joe Bolden, particularly against Air Force early in 2012. Demens seemed to be on the rise, but instead he plateaued or even took a step backward. He occasionally made a big hit and he was decent in pass coverage, but people probably won't be longing for the days of Kenny Demens in 10 or 15 years. I applaud the work he put in for Michigan, though. He was a steady force in the middle of a defense that improved significantly throughout his career.
I WILL REMEMBER HIM FOR . . .
. . . not being Obi Ezeh. I can't think of a signature play for Demens.
I think Demens will sign somewhere as an undrafted free agent, but I don't think he has much of a future in the NFL. While he is very thick and strong, he's not particularly fast, instinctive, or athletic, which limits his value even as a special teams player. Since he lacks the speed to be a true 4-3 middle linebacker, I think the best situation for him might be if he gets signed by a 3-4 team as an inside 'backer.