January 18, 2008

Snead's ready to lead Ole Miss

Jevan Snead's last year's been harder than he thought. Instead of playing football, the Ole Miss quarterback had to sit and watch the Rebels struggle. He felt helpless.

After being forced into the stands, Snead underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee at the end of the season.

Then, his future was thrown into doubt when Ole Miss fired Ed Orgeron and hired Houston Nutt. Then Nutt's offensive coordinator, David Lee, took an NFL job.

But there was some upside.

While the name "Jevan Snead" carries weight in Oxford, the face is still relatively anonymous - a lesson Snead learned during the Ole Miss-Florida basketball game Wednesday.

"I usually don't get bothered at all. No one said anything to me last night at the basketball game. It's not bad at all," Snead said. "I did see a guy walk past me with a No. 4 jersey, but he didn't recognize me."

Soon, that should change. Snead's ready to step into the spotlight in Oxford despite all the turmoil.

"I was never going to go anywhere. This is my team; this is my home now no matter who the coach was going to be. But, I'm glad it's Houston Nutt. I can't wait to play for him."

Snead said it took a minute to process exactly what the coaching change meant for him. While Snead and ex-Arkansas quarterback Mitch Mustain never chatted, Snead made sure to speak with his new head coach.

"I didn't know what to think at first. Arkansas, they ran the ball a lot," Snead said. "But, after talking to him, I realized it was just because they had such great running backs. We have some great running backs too, but it'll just open up the passing game."

There's going to be some areas where Snead needs to get better. The sophomore quarterback said he needs to spend more time dropping back from under center, with most of his previous experience coming out of the shotgun.

But with ex-Ole Miss quarterback and Canadian Football League head coach Kent Austin on board as offensive coordinator, Snead said he wants to get started.

"I'm looking forward to working with Coach Austin," he said. "I can't wait to pick his mind and see what we're going to do. It's great for me."

And that's good news for Snead, who didn't enjoy watching his team struggle all last season while he sat out for his transfer year.

"It was harder than I expected. I thought maybe it would be nice and kind of relaxing, but it was really tough watching my team and not being able to help them," Snead said. "I've never had that happen. Being in the stands, that was something I hadn't experienced since I was a little kid."

But now, it seems like things are coming together. While Snead's knee isn't 100 percent, it's close.

"It's doing great. I've been rehabbing all over the break," he said. "I got back here and been working it really hard. I've been running in the pool and doing some running on the field."

And Snead got even more good news when Michael Oher decided to return for his senior season, keeping the quarterback's blind side safe.

Snead reacted to the news like any quarterback would.

"I had a big smile on my face and big sigh of relief," Snead said. "Not having to worry about getting killed, that's a great thing."

Now, it's just a matter of Snead living up to his own high expectations, measuring his abilities against all the talent in the SEC.

"I really haven't done anything to prove myself yet," Snead said. "Once I get out there on the field, I'll be able to play with them.

"That's what I'm looking forward to; that's what my goal is."

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