Ole Miss junior Quarterback Jevan Snead looks back on the early part of last season as a tension-filled blur.
After all, it was his first season as a starting collegiate QB and he was running a system he learned on the fly in spring and summer.
As the 2009 season approaches, it's easy to detect Snead is more comfortable in his skin, so to speak.
"I've been working on my one-liners for media day next week," he quipped, "but I'm way more comfortable than I was with being an SEC quarterback."
Example: When asked about the recent wreck Greg Hardy and Dexter McCluster had, Jevan said he was thankful neither were hurt seriously, but added a humorous nugget.
"As good and valuable as they both are, they shouldn't be allowed to ride in the same car together," he smiled. "That's what I think."
That comfort zone has even filtered into the offseason management of the 7-on-7 passing drills he orchestrates twice a week during the summer. Coaches are not allowed to organize or attend those sessions.
"I didn't really know how to organize the 7-on-7 last year and attendance wasn't as good as it is this year," Snead said. "Now I feel like I can take charge and get things better organized.
"The guys are working hard and making plays. The older guys are picking up where they left off and some of the younger guys are pretty shifty. Korvic Neat can really move and Patrick Patterson reminds me of Shay (Hodge) with his great hands and how smooth he is. He made a tremendous catch on a fade route for a TD yesterday that was unreal.
"The young guys have a lot of potential, but how much they help will be determined with how hard they dive into the playbook and learn the system. Physically, they are gifted, but they have a lot to learn. I know this - they are a hungry bunch eager to learn."
Jevan has also had a bird's eye view of freshman Quarterback Raymond Cotton.
"That guy has a cannon. He can really throw it. He launches it, but right now, he's young and just wants to throw it deep," Snead laughed. "I was the same way when I was a freshman. Just bombs. He loves the deep ball. He's a big, strong guy with a lot of potential."
During spring training, it was essential for the continued development of Markeith Summers and Lionel Breaux, who will have their roles expanded this fall from spot players last year. Snead was asked about their summer progress.
"They are definitely getting better with reps and stepping up. I told them how important they were going to be this season and they have responded by working hard to get better," Snead noted. "They have done a great job."
Snead is looking forward to his second season of working with Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Kent Austin.
"I can't tell you everything he's taught me - we don't have that much time," Jevan elaborated. "He's helped me so much with my progressions and reading defenses, but he's also helped me with little things like not locking my left leg when I throw. He's drilled into my head about not making a bad play worse than it already is and things like that.
"Coach Austin is a brilliant coach. I just listen and try to absorb everything he says because he's telling you everything you need to succeed."
As for his conditioning, Snead says he's ready to go.
"Since our last interview, I have quit hanging around the pool so much," he smiled. "We've all been working hard. I feel stronger and faster. If not faster, at least quicker than last year. Coach (Don) Decker has done a great job with us this offseason and summer."
Jevan recently went to the Manning Passing Camp as an instructor and found that beneficial as well.
"I learned I probably won't end up being a junior high coach," he chuckled, "but I also got to sit down with Eli and Peyton in the film room and see how they study film and go about scouting the next opponent. That was certainly educational."
Snead's next media test will be next week at SEC Media Days.
"I've been practicing, but I will probably freeze up in front of 700 reporters," he joked. "I'm getting nervous already."
That might have been true for the "old" Jevan Snead, but the new version is tension free and relaxed.
He's hoping, and banking on, that level of comfort carrying over to the field this fall.
Jevan Snead -
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