Snead's Challenge

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – There is little debate who the two best quarterbacks heading into 2009 in the SEC are. In their only head-to-head meeting to date, Jevan Snead's team came out on top by a point.

Tim Tebow's Florida Gators, who eventually won the national title, lost 31-30 at home to the Ole Miss Rebels, who finished 9-4 and Cotton Bowl champs.

That was then. This is now. Snead and Tebow can only meet if the two win their respective divisions and make it to Atlanta.

There are challenges ahead for Ole Miss and for Snead. But he appears to be more than ready.

Snead took center stage at the SEC Media Days this morning, right before Tim Tebow did. The junior Rebel signal-caller, who once committed to Florida and played for Texas for a year, tried to downplay any comparisons, any hype about himself, any Heisman talk, and said he was strictly focused on winning games, like the Rebels did the last six of last year.

"It's a great feeling," Snead said of his team being so highly thought of in the preseason. "It was great to do well late last year, and it's great to have our name back out there."

One of the keys for Snead to even be talking about any success for himself and for his team was finally finding a home. Third time was charm as last year proved.

"I'm excited to be a part of it," he said of Ole Miss and the positives going on with Rebel football right now.

There was a time he wasn't sure what he was getting into.

"After deciding to look around (when he was at Texas), my high school coach and high school trainer helped me look at some places," he said. "They said, ‘Ole Miss' and I was like ‘Who?' I really was focused on Texas and the Big XII at the time."

And getting out of there. But it didn't take long for him to realize north Mississippi could be the next stop.

"I loved the town. I loved the campus. I fell in love with it and felt right at home when I visited," Snead said.

He was asked here about the coaching change during his redshirt season.

"Sure there are a lot of questions and thoughts going through your mind," he said.

But Houston Nutt moved across the Mississippi River from Arkansas and things immediately began to settle down, and even moreso with the addition of Kent Austin to the staff.

"God had a plan for me," Snead said, humbly, truthfully, and from the heart, obviously. "I couldn't be in a better position than I am right now. I can't imagine it working out any better."

That includes playing for Nutt. Snead was asked if there was another head coach in the league he might enjoy playing for.

"I don't know if I could play for another coach than Coach Nutt," he said.

Clearly he's had the opportunity. Urban Meyer at Florida. Mack Brown at Texas. Ed Orgeron at Ole Miss.

But his relationship and maturity under Nutt and also Austin have been key to him actually being mentioned as a Heisman hopeful here and elsewhere this season.

"I really don't think about all that stuff," he said of Heismans and honors. "I just focus on winning games. That will take care of itself."

And he said neither is the team when it comes to all the preseason hype and top 10 rankings.

"We're really not thinking about it that much," he said. "As a team, we're doing the same things that got us where we were last year. It was hard work that got us success. That's what we'll continue to do, prepare for success."

Success like he and the Rebels had in The Swamp against the Gators last season.

"I take pride in every one of our victories," he said. "Beating a great team down there was just a lot of fun."

And certainly helped get the names Ole Miss and Jevan Snead out there for sure.

Meyer said he has known about Snead for a long time.

"He's a great college player," the Florida head coach said. "He's going to be a great pro player. He's got one of the best releases in college football. We actually recruited him when I was at Utah."

Now it's Nutt who is breathing easier because Snead is his signal caller, who is helping him handle all the attention that's coming his way.

"Jevan and I have had a couple conversations and the biggest thing I told him was the attention, the way you finished the year, is going to come down on top of you," Nutt said. "But I don't want you to change. I want you to be Jevan Snead and remember what got you to this point. And that's a tremendous work ethic and taking those receivers and getting close to them. And still being the humble and unselfish player that you are. All the accolades will come. What determines the amount? Winning? It's all about winning. The reason you're in this position is you won your last six games. If you hadn't, you wouldn't be in this position."

Then the question would this season be less successful if the Rebels don't make it to Atlanta came up.

"Our motto this year is ‘Unsatisfied'. Our goal is to make it to Atlanta and play for the SEC Championship," Snead said. "But we're going to focus on one game at a time. We're not going to look too far down the road. We'll just do what we did last year and that's prepare one week at a time."

Challenging, like the season ahead as a whole for the Rebels and for Snead, but certainly doable.

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