QB Snead tunes out the hype

OXFORD – If Jevan Snead lacked notoriety while his games were being played last season, he’s more than made up for that in the off-season.
Snead rocketed into the nation’s college football consciousness in the final months of 2008 when he quarterbacked the Ole Miss Rebels to six straight wins, most of them in dominating fashion, including a 47-34 thrashing of No. 7 Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl.
Earlier in his sophomore season, Snead struggled with the turnovers that come from trying to force play, but in his last six games he completed 83-of-143 (58 percent) of his pass attempts for 1,298 yards and 16 touchdowns. Only three of his 13 interceptions came in the last six games.
Shortly after Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford was taken No. 1 overall in the 2009 NFL draft following his junior season, CBS Sportsline projected Snead would become the SEC’s second straight underclassman quarterback to be taken with the No. 1 pick.
CBS isn’t alone in that opinion. Most analysts may not have Snead No. 1, but he’s a definite first-rounder, a consensus top 15 pick.
“I try not to put too much into that,” Snead said. “It’s hard not to think about it, but right now I’m really just trying to focus on getting ready for the season.”
In these summer weeks, that means going through a strength and conditioning program that offensive coordinator Kent Austin hopes will gradually work Snead’s arm into shape. To do so too quickly could lead to problems as the grind of the season wears down.
“I’m not trying to jump into things off the bat,” Snead said. “Coach Austin has talked to a few guys, and he has a really good program for my arm. That’s what I’m doing right now.”
Voluntary, unsupervised summer workouts with receivers will come later.
Snead followed the 2008 season with solid work in spring drills. For the Rebels to have the kind of season that many are predicting for them, they need Snead to be on top of his game from wire-to-wire, not only near the end as was the case in his first full season as a college starter.
“Our expectations for him are for him to take off where he left off. If you took the first five games and then went to the last seven, it’s night and day. This guy has improved so much — his eyes, his knowledge to get us out of a bad play and get us in the right play,” Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said. “You’ve just got a real confidence with him taking this thing over. He is going to grow and grow. I think he would be the first to tell you that he can improve on a lot of things — where he puts his eyes and his reads. The one thing about Jevan is he is hungry. He loves to come to work, and he loves to practice.”

Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal