Cordera Eason came out of Meridian High School as one of the most sought-after tailbacks in the South and the nation.
While some predicted "instant stardom," the soft-spoken Eason was more realistic with his expectations.
"I knew about BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Mico McSwain returning, so I didn't come to Ole Miss anticipating being a starter at tailback," he reflects. "I knew I would have to pay my dues, work hard and kind of wait my turn."
Cordera probably achieved more than he was expecting when he was told he would not redshirt in 2006.
"After being here a couple of months, I kind of thought I'd redshirt, but then the coaches talked about moving Mico around and Bruce (Hall) was new to tailback. I got an opening and was glad I wasn't going to redshirt, even though I figured my role would be small unless someone got hurt," he explained.
Cordera's role was on a couple of special teams units and very sparingly at TB.
"I understood my role and was happy to accept it and to take that time to improve myself," he continued. "I used the year to get a grasp of what was expected of me and how I could fit in to help the team.
"I discovered it would all be based on hard work and making myself the best I could be. It was good for me to get a taste of what it was like. I feel better now about myself because I got in a couple of games and found out what it's all about. Going into 2007, I know what to expect and not expect."
Eason worked on his body during the year, but actually put on a little too much weight, he says.
"I weigh 237 right now and that's a little too heavy for me. I want to trim some body fat and get down to about 225-230 - in that range," Cordera assessed. "I want to change some of my body weight to muscle. I'm working hard to get my body right.
"I have gotten a whole lot stronger. (S&C) Coach (Aaron) Ausmus has me stronger than I have ever been. My bench press has gone way up and so has my squat. When I got here, I was benching about 275. Now I'm up to 325 or a little higher. That's a big gain. I'm squatting around 420, which is also a huge gain for me. Coach Ausmus knows what he is doing. He's turning all of us who are willing into what we need to be to win on this level."
Cordera said one reason to lose weight is his speed. While he maintained his speed in putting on the extra pounds, he feels taking off 10 pounds will help him gain speed.
"I'm just as fast now as I was at 225 originally, but when I get back to 225 again, with a different body makeup, a stronger body, I will be faster and quicker. Strength is a big part of speed," he noted.
Cordera realizes he's in somewhat the same position he was in last year - looking over the shoulders of Green-Ellis and Hall, both rising seniors, but he feels his role will expand his sophomore year and then make a major jump the two years after that, when BJGE and Bruce have graduated.
"(RB) Coach (Frank) Wilson has told me my role will be bigger if I earn it. They want to use us in different ways and have more of a three-man rotation at TB, but I have to prove to them I can get the job done when my number is called," he explained. "We are all a little different and can bring something to the table."
Eason classifies himself as a downhill runner.
"I think I can become a complete back. I feel I have good size, speed and quickness and I can catch the ball well out of the backfield," he noted. "However the coaches want to use me, I am anxious to fill that role.
"I now feel more comfortable in the system, so I'm not having to think much. That will turn me loose to show more of my skills. I had times last year when I was hesitating mentally and that slowed down my play. I don't think that will be the case next year."
Cordera feels he has adjusted to the whole ball of wax of college life and college football.
"College is totally different than high school. There's something happening all the time. Take film study, for instance. You can get overwhelmed if you let yourself," he closed. "First, you don't really understand what you are looking at at first. Then you start to catch on and see things the coaches see. Then you start applying that to practice and it all makes sense.
"The workload to play college football is heavy, but after you have been in it for a while you understand why it takes that much effort and how it all fits together. Everything starts coming together."
Cordera Eason now has everything going in the right direction after a year of learning.
Expect him to make some noise in 2007.
Cordera Eason update
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