As the triggerman to Ole Miss' success next season, quarterback Jevan Snead hears the chatter and expectations.
It's hard not to. After leading his team to a 9-4 season and Cotton Bowl win, early predictions have the Rebels as a top-10 team in 2009. Better yet, many are claiming Snead as a possible candidate for the coveted Heisman Trophy.
Most would expect the junior signal-caller to be a bit overwhelmed with the limelight shining overhead. But Snead is taking it all in stride.
"I've been hanging out by the pool a whole lot," said Snead, who finished 2008 with 2,762 passing yards and 26 touchdowns. "I'm trying to get some pool basketball in."
Since spring drills in April, Snead has taken some time to himself. He hasn't thrown a football all summer, has done a bit of fishing and even tried to better his golf game whenever he can find some free time.
Admittedly, however, Snead has some work to do on the latter.
"I enjoy some downtime, definitely," he said. "I'm still kind of in the grind right now of just going to workouts and everything. There's not a whole lot of downtime. When I get some time in the afternoons, I try and play a little golf here and there. I'm awful, by the way.
"It's nice to get away for a little bit, but I'm definitely looking forward to the start of two-a-days and the start of the season. I'm not counting the days yet, but when it gets closer I will."
Comcast Sports South recently visited Oxford to do a special on Snead and teammate Justin Sparks, focusing on how the junior deals with the pressure of being the face of the Ole Miss franchise.
A camera crew followed the pair on their fishing trip to the Colonel's Quarters, but Snead said the media attention hasn't been too demanding.
"It really hasn't been too busy or anything like that," said Snead. "I did do that fishing show. It was fun, but I didn't catch as many fish as I would've liked. It's good to get a little bit of attention I guess. Get the spotlight on our program a little bit and get our name out there. Personally, I'm not one to go out and look for anything like that."
Offensive coordinator Kent Austin is trying something a little different with his star pupil this summer.
After consulting with an array of strength and conditioning coaches following spring practice, Austin is having Snead focus on building back his arm strength naturally, rather than through 7-on-7's or individual work with receivers.
"There's been a bunch of strength and condition, little bit of running and lots of lifting. I'm trying to build my arm up slowly and get back in shape," Snead said. "Coach Austin talked to a few guys and got a really good program for my arm so it won't get tired or anything like that."
While most eyes are focused on Snead whenever he touches the ball, a big storyline heading into the fall is of the left tackle spot vacated by now Baltimore Raven Michael Oher.
Sophomore Bradley Sowell, who struggled in the early portions of spring practice, is currently slotted as his replacement, with senior guard Reid Neely also a possibly.
Of course, the much-anticipated arrival of freshman Bobby Massie should add another name to the mix, as the 6-foot-8, 320 pounder is expected to challenge for immediate playing time.
"For me I wasn't real sure just going into spring and going to see how things went," said Snead. "But I think they had a great spring. I couldn't ask them to do anymore. They really came along and improved throughout the spring as it went on. I'm sure they'll continue to grow throughout the summer."
Being draft eligible as a junior, speculation has already begun to surround Snead and his status after the season.
Already, mock drafts are declaring the Texas native as a potential first round pick, with some even crowning Snead as a legitimate top-5 selection.
However, talk of the future can wait for the cool-natured quarterback. Snead is one-track minded.
"You hear stuff like that, but I try not to put too much into it," he said. "It's hard not to think about it a little bit I guess, but right now, I'm just really focusing on trying to get ready for the season."
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