Ole Miss sophomore TB Cordera Eason felt he had something to prove in spring training.
As a true freshman in 2006, he was somewhat buried on the depth chart behind upperclassmen BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Bruce Hall.
Even though he got to play some, mainly on special teams, Cordera did not really get to show his stuff from the TB position the way he had hoped.
Eason knew he had a lot of work to do to garner more attention so he went about doing it.
"I could tell pretty quickly there were things I knew I had to do to make up some ground between me and Ben and Bruce," he explained. "One, I had to change my body. Two, I had to learn to be patient when running the ball. Three, I had to study more in the film room."
Between the end of last season and now, that's exactly what he did.
"I feel I accomplished a lot in that time. Last season, I weighed 240 pounds and some of it was baby fat," he began. "I went on a strict diet and conditioning program.
"I worked hard every day in the weight room and I started losing weight. I got down to 224, which was a little too light. Now I'm back to 230, but the extra six pounds is the kind of weight I wanted to put on. It's muscle and not fat. I still wanted to be what you'd call a big TB, but I needed to change the weight from fat to muscle so I could help my speed and quickness."
Eason feels he's in the best shape of his life as August practice approaches.
"My endurance is much better. In summer conditioning work, I can tell a big difference in my conditioning and speed and quickness. We were doing some bag drills the other days and all the strength coaches were commenting on how much quicker I looked. I felt quicker and shiftier, like when I was in high school and weighed around 220," he explained.
Not only did Eason labor on getting his body right, he worked on his football mind as well.
"Last year, I didn't understand patience and waiting on a hole or crease to develop. I'd just get the ball and go as fast as I could and try to run over somebody or make a hole," he continued. "In spring, I watched a lot of film. I saw where if I had waited a split second that the game would come to me and holes would develop.
"We put in some plays where patience is really required and that helped me improve in that area. I have become more patient, but I've still got to keep working on that and remaining patient."
In the spring game, Cordera showed his improvement to the tune of 120 yards rushing.
"A year ago, I wouldn't have been able to do that," he smiled. "I would have taken the handoff and just bulled my way up in the line and probably would have been hit for a loss. In the spring game, I was more patient and waited for things to develop and then I attacked.
"I'm learning more and more how to read defenses and follow my blocks and the timing of running plays. I know I have the physical ability, but it took me some time to figure out the rest. I think I have improved a whole lot since the season."
Eason has also given some of the credit for his improvement to being able to watch and learn from BenJarvus.
"He showed me how much film work it takes to succeed. Ben puts in a lot of time in the film room and understands defense. He can pick up little things that he reads and recognizes that help him gain yards. The slightest movement can tip what a defender is going to do and you adjust to that," Eason stated. "He's very good at that. He carries his film work to the field and I'm trying to copy that.
"I want to incorporate some of his techniques with mine and become a complete back for when Ben and Bruce are gone."
But don't take that to mean Cordera isn't looking to contribute in 2007.
"I want to help more on special teams and I'd like to get more TB reps. I think I earned more playing time in spring and I think the coaches feel the same way," he closed. "I want to do whatever I can to help the team win. The individual stuff will take care of itself."
Cordera Eason update -
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