Junior quarterback Jevan Snead has decided to forego his senior season and enter the 2010 NFL Draft, as announced Thursday by Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt.
It's unknown where Snead, who departs as just the second Ole Miss quarterback to throw for 2,000 yards in consecutive seasons, is expected to be selected. Before an up-and-down junior season, he was considered a virtual early-round lock, if not a possible first rounder.
"After much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to forego my final year at Ole Miss and enter the NFL Draft," Snead said in a university release Thursday afternoon. "The fans, coaches and my teammates at Ole Miss have been unbelievable, and I want to thank them for an incredible experience. In the end, I had to do what is best for me and my family. Having finished my degree, I look forward to the challenge and hard work that comes with pursuing my dream of playing quarterback in the NFL."
In a rollercoaster two years while under center, Snead ends his career behind only Eli Manning on the Rebel single-season passing charts for efficiency, touchdowns and yards.
He boasts 14 career 200-yard passing games, and posted a school-record streak of eight straight games with multiple touchdown passes.
"After long talks last night and this morning, we tried very hard to keep Jevan as an Ole Miss Rebel for one more year," said Nutt. "I'm sure the fact that he has already finished his degree played a role in his decision, and I do respect his decision. He is young man of great character and Jevan will always be a member of the Ole Miss family.
"We want to thank Jevan for his outstanding play as our quarterback the last two years and wish him nothing but the best. We will be keeping up with him on the next level."
However, after a breakout sophomore campaign, Snead endured a wealth of struggles as a junior. While he was promoted as a potential Heisman candidate in the preseason, the Stephenville, Teaxas native seldom showed glimpses of his 2008 form when he finished second in the SEC in touchdown passes with 26.
For the season, Snead was good on 191-of-351 passing attempts for 2,632 yards and 20 touchdowns. But turnovers were a continual problem. He threw at least two interceptions in seven games, and led the conference with 20 on the year.
A trying year was capped in the 74th annual AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, where he completed 13-of-23 passes for 168 yards and three interceptions.
After throwing an interception early in the second quarter, Snead took a vicious hit while pursuing the defender downfield. The play led to the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder being replaced by backup Nathan Stanley, who finished the game 2-of-7 for three yards and an interception. Stanley also opened the third quarter for Ole Miss in a 21-7 win, though Snead returned and eventually finished the game.
Looking back, the general consensus is his alarming inconsistency came to a head at South Carolina.
Snead completed only 7-of-21 passes for 107 yards and one touchdown in a deflating 16-10 loss in Columbia, which triggered a downward spiral. He combined for seven interceptions to three touchdowns against Vanderbilt and Alabama in the following weeks.
As a sophomore, Snead was named All-SEC honorable mention by the Associated Press. He finished second in the SEC in touchdown passes, and third in passing average with 212.5 yards per game. He also ranked third in the SEC, 21st in the nation, in pass efficiency (14.5).
Better yet, the transfer from Texas established Ole Miss season records for average yards per completion (15.0) and pass attempts (8.4). In the team's six-game winning streak to end the season, Snead tossed 16 touchdown passes and only three interceptions.
But according to offensive coordinator Kent Austin, Snead still had room to grow.
"Here's the deal. I'm not excusing the bad plays. I'm really not. But people need to realize he has won 18 games in the last two years as our starting quarterback," said Austin, following the second of consecutive Cotton Bowl wins for Ole Miss Saturday.
"Who is the last one to do that here? I don't think Eli (Manning) did. The kid has back-to-back Cotton Bowl wins. We know he's making too many mistakes. He knows he's making too many mistakes and he's down about it. The kid has made a lot of plays and made some big plays (Saturday). Don't just remember the bad plays. Again, we're not excusing those and neither is he, but I'm asking people to look at the big picture. Look at the record."
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