OPINION: Big men on campus heighten expectations

OXFORD – You’re not likely to see Jevan Snead and Terrico White hanging out together around town.
Their extracurricular activities require a great deal of their time.
These guys do share something in common, however. They are the most prominent players in arguably the two most prominent sports at Ole Miss.
They are the faces of their respective programs. While neither the football team nor the basketball team have been in season for several months, Snead and White have been the topic of much discussion.
Snead, the Rebels’ quarterback, could quite possibly be the first player selected in next spring’s NFL draft.
White isn’t rated quite as highly for next summer’s NBA draft, but one Web site projects him as a lottery pick in 2011.
These are special talents. Guys with their ability don’t come around often. You don’t flip too many pages in the football media guide before you get to Eli Manning, but in the years that followed Manning’s senior season the Rebels’ quarterbacks were quite average.
Now under center there’s poise, arm strength, elusiveness and leadership.
On the court White can jump up and nail a 3 with dizzying quickness. He can drive past opponents, and when he gets to the rim can jump so high he looks like a circus act.
Neither Snead, a junior, or White, a sophomore, are likely to see their senior seasons.
White could return for his junior season if he believes he can greatly enhance his draft status by another year.
Snead may decide that he really enjoys the pageantry of college football, but if he has the season many believe he will, and if his projections remain as high as they’ve been this summer, there’s more risk in staying and getting hurt than in leaving and cashing in.
A consideration in Snead’s situation will be the landscape of rookie salaries in the NFL, which could change drastically after this year the final season for the collective bargaining agreement.
You can’t help but wonder what their coaches can accomplish while two such big men are on campus. Is there pressure to win big now?
“We don’t want to sit here and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to have something big happen.’ You don’t want to approach it that way,” football coach Houston Nutt said. “We want to say, Hey, we have a good team. We don’t need to get anybody hurt. Let’s go play.’”
These are team sports, of course. Snead and White are pieces in a puzzle. Players come and go, and coaches go out and get more players.
Coaches may not admit it, but there’s probably a little crossing of fingers, a little thought about what might happen with players of this caliber.
In an ideal scenario the end result would look something like this: Win big, disprove the theories that great success can’t happen at some schools, go out and sign this level of athlete again, repeat cycle.
Parrish Alford (parrish.alford@djournal.com) covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily at NEMS360.com.

Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal