Through two games, Jevan Snead has shown timing, precision and a lightning-quick release. The sophomore can thread a needle and fit the football through rapidly closing pass windows. But on occasion, the reads aren't open and another avenue must be explored – an escape route if you will.
On occasion as the defense closes in and routes begin to be broken off, Snead simply steps up and lofts the ball downfield. Dangerous would be one way to describe the decision, but it isn't all improvised. A plan is in order.
A plan named Shay Hodge.
The junior receiver, who leads SEC pass catchers with three scores, is waiting on the other end of Snead's high heaves downfield. The deep flailings find Hodge high in the air. The plays have already resulted in two touchdowns, one after a catch and nifty run, the other found him in the end zone, and Hodge feels confident that more are on the way.
"Deep balls, all about going up and getting those," Hodge said. "He (Snead) throws it up and knows I am going to get it for him."
"I've always played a lot of basketball, and that has helped my leaping ability. Trained me to go up and get it. Kind of like rebounding."
Touchdown receptions are nothing new for the 6-foot-1, 207-pound Morton native, as he tied for a team-high six scores last season. However, this is a new level. Half of that number has already occurred.
There is also an increase in yardage. Hodge is averaging 72 yards per game (3rd in SEC) and 20 yards each catch. He finished 2007 with 593 yards, the most by a Rebel on the season.
"I just have a lot of confidence," Hodge said. "I am trying to be one of the best wide receivers in the league. I know I can do it, and that is such a big part. Our offense makes you confident."
Snead said: "Shay has such good hands. You trust him to make every catch. Get it close, and it is a completion."
The relationship has flourished quickly, but time and effort has been spent to get to this level.
"It comes from the summer when we were always staying out there and throwing after workouts and seven-on-sevens," Hodge said. "We have a good connection, especially when I am one-on-one. Jevan knows I am going to catch it nine out of 10 times. He has a lot of trust in me."
So this Saturday and the nine more afterward, looking to the air when a play breaks down is a solid option. There is good possibility that Snead will be sending one Shay's way.
Excitement is evident for Hodge, but the stats are secondary to another purpose this weekend. Getting back on the correct side of the win column is of the utmost importance. A much less talented opponent enters, but Hodge warns against looking ahead. He is focused on Samford and nothing else.
"It is a little harder to stay motivated for Samford, but we aren't in a position to overlook anybody. We're not used to winning a lot, so it is all about concentration and playing every play.
"We need to get back on the field, and get this loss out of our system."
Shay Makin' Plays for Rebs
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