Notebook: Decisions, Decisions

ARLINGTON, Texas - The questions and speculation remain the same, but Ole Miss junior quarterback Jevan Snead isn't showing his hand on whether or not he'll forego his senior season for the NFL following a Cotton Bowl showdown with Oklahoma State.

Snead has often stated his intention of waiting until season's end to weigh the pros and cons of declaring early. For the year, the Stephenville, Texas native completed 178-of-328 passes for 2,464 yards, 20 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

"I really don't know. I haven't put a whole lot of thought into it," Snead said of his upcoming decision. "I'm focusing on the game at hand. After the game, we'll see what happens. Right now my focus is on the Cotton Bowl."

Sunday, Snead and the Rebels held their first practice inside Cowboys Stadium in preparation for the 74th annual AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic. While his season was up-and-down, the junior helped lead Ole Miss to an 8-4 (4-4 SEC) record on the year, and the team's first back-to-back January bowl berths in 40 years.

Entering the year, Snead was widely considered first-round potential. But through some struggles during the season, it seems his draft stock has dipped a bit. When looking to draft projections, the general consensus is mixed.

"There are a lot of things I can improve on," Snead said. "Nobody has ever played a perfect game. I don't know if anybody ever will. I have several areas of my game I know I can improve, one of them being decision-making and timing also. I've had to learn when to call it quits on a play and throw it out of bounds. Things like that I can always improve on. Mechanically, as far as footwork, I can always improve."

Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt said he has yet to speak with Snead about his future.

"I know there's talk about him going pro or staying, but we have not talked about that," said Nutt. "What I have talked with him about is this game - staying focused and tuning in. When he‘s been focused and locked in, he's had some very productive games. That's what we're looking for right now.

"We'll talk after the game about his future, but right now we are just concentrating on him being totally into this game. It's one day at a time, right now, for him and all of us. Enjoy it. Focus and take it all in. Jevan puts a lot on himself and I think doubt kind of came into his head earlier in the year. When Jevan is focused, he's very, very good. That is what we, and he, are striving for. We'll worry about the other issue after this game."

A Healthy Hardy?:

Not since a lopsided win over Northern Arizona in the first weekend of November has senior defensive end Greg Hardy felt like this.

The 38-14 victory over the Lumberjacks proved to be the final regular season action for Hardy in 2009. Shortly after, the 6-foot-5, 275-pounder had surgery on his fractured wrist – a wrist that remains heavily taped.

It was one of many injuries Hardy has dealt with over his Rebel career. Along with his ailing wrist, Hardy endured two foot surgeries before the season began.

However, with Ole Miss entrenched in bowl practices, Hardy said he's finally close to being fully healthy.

"The surgery allowed me some time to get my ankle and my foot back under me, so I could come back with confidence and no pain. I feel like my regular self," he said. "I was running in the off time and staying conditioned. I feel I'm a new person. I'm revived. I'm rejuvenated."

Hardy was initially expected to miss the remainder of the season following surgery. But despite a season-ending announcement by Nutt, Hardy hoped to return by at least Mississippi State.

"Coach Nutt was trying to look out for my best interest," Hardy said. "I'm not going to say I had to talk him into (playing in the Cotton Bowl). When I told him I was ready to play, he believed me. He just wants to do what's best for my wrist and what's best for my future."

Though his NFL future is obviously a focal point in the coming weeks, Hardy said it had no bearing on his decision to play against Oklahoma State.

"Obviously it makes sense, but I just wanted to come back to the Cotton Bowl," he said. "It's a repeat of last year. I get to play with my team one last time. I feel I have a lot to prove to the NCAA and to my team. I want to show what else I got in me."

The Focal Point:

Senior running back/wide receiver Dexter McCluster knows the story all too well.

When the Rebels meet Oklahoma State on January 2, McCluster will draw the Cowboys' full attention as he vies to become the first player in SEC history to rush for 1,000 yards and total 500 yards receiving in the same year.

McCluster needs only 15 rushing yards and 25 receiving yards in the bowl game to reach that mark.

"It just feels good to be that focal point," he said. "It opens up other people to make plays. I go into a game not worried about the defense. I want them to worry about me and worry about stopping me. It'll happen."

But while stamping his name in the record books is certainly a goal, McCluster said the team is only looking to rid themselves of the bad taste left from a 41-27 thrashing by way of in-state rival Mississippi State.

"It took us a little while to watch that film, but when we did, it was a dose of reality," said McCluster. "They came out there to win. We came out there too lacksidasical. We didn't play Ole Miss football. We want to get that bad taste out of our mouths. (Sunday) was a good start. It's going to be a great opportunity to show what we can do and we're ready to win."


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