Snead, Eason excited about spring

As Ole Miss began spring drills Thursday under clear skies and pleasant temperatures, Houston Nutt made his first on-the-field appearance as the Rebels' coach. Meanwhile the day also served as another step in the patient progress of two players.

Cordera Eason and Jevan Snead have both been waiting for their individual opportunities to make an impact on the Ole Miss offense, and spring practice signaled the start of that chance. Eason and Snead walked out onto the artificial turf at Vaught-Hemingway as the No. 1 players at their respective positions.

Snead was sidelined in 2007 due to NCAA transfer rules after switching from Texas to Ole Miss, and Eason has received limited action because of All-SEC tailback BenJarvus Green-Ellis controlling the bulk of the backfield carries for two seasons.

Thursday was exciting, but they each realize every day leading up to the season opener will be a learning process thanks to the new system put in place by Nutt and company.

"The last coaching staff taught effort," Eason said. "This coaching staff teaches technique. They explain everything to you. They let you know why you need to do this and do that. There's always a reason behind it. I feel like this coaching staff is really going to break it down and teach you baby steps until you get to the big dance. This coaching staff has done a real good job of helping everybody and teaching.

"People are making mistakes, but that is to be expected. It comes with the territory of a new system."

Snead had a solid first day throwing the football and really excelled during one stretch in the middle of the practice. Actually preparing for a season is new and thrilling for the sophomore.

"It was a good first day," Snead said. "I think we have a lot of good film and a lot to learn from, especially myself, making reads and getting my feet right and everything. It feels great. I'm just going out there and working and trying to make my teammates better, but at the same time, I'm trying to make sure I have my things right. I'm excited to be at the reins right now and be behind this offense."

Nutt was hands-on with the offense, but the majority of the instruction was handled by new offensive coordinator and former Rebel Kent Austin. Last year's Canadian Football League Coach of the Year is taking time to hammer home his gameplan.

"It's totally different," Eason said. "It's different formations, different everything. Coach Austin came in with a great plan and I'm loving the offense. We have a long way to go to learn this offense because it's new to everybody, but I feel like once we get rolling, our offense will be all right."

Snead was impressed with Austin's ability to teach.

"(Austin) is so smart. I feel privileged to learn from him. I'm trying to pick his mind as much as possible. He's good at teaching it to us. He's breaking it up and showing us our reads, where we need to go with the ball and where we need to go with our eyes. It's a lot at first. We had some mistakes and it's tough, but I think we're getting it."

Both Eason and Snead left the field with smiles after the first day, but the hard part may be just beginning. Snead has expectations to live up to, while Eason will need to fend off other backs to keep his spot.

"I have been waiting so long, and I finally have it," Eason said. Things can change in a day. Now, I just have to hold on to it."

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