To Each His Own

Jevan Snead's decision to pass on his final year as an Ole Miss Rebel and enter the National Football League draft left many pondering why. Many theories floated around. Read about it inside.

It seemed "everyone" had an opinion about whether or not Jevan Snead should throw his hat in the NFL draft mix and give up his final year of college/Rebel eligibility.

When he did - somewhat surprisingly, but not shockingly - declare for the pro route, "everyone" had an opinion why.

You know what they say about opinions. . .the polite version: They are like noses, everyone's got one.

I had my own as well, until I had a semi-lengthy talk with Jevan's Dad, Jaylon, right after Snead made his choice to get an agent and try his wings in the big leagues.

All the analysis, deep thought and dissection of his choice on my part was wasted time.

It ended up, the elder Snead said, something very simple that pushed Jevan over the edge.

A dream. . .

"Jevan wrote a paper in the fourth grade that his dream was to try to play in the NFL," said Jaylon. "I've still got it somewhere. It's always been his goal and he feels he's ready to give it a shot.

"His decision has nothing to do with Ole Miss. He loved his time there. We loved his time there. We'll always be Rebels. Ole Miss has not seen the last of the Snead family. It had nothing to do with the returning players - Jevan feels the team will keep right on going up with or without him. It has nothing to do with money or future earnings or bettering himself in the draft if he came back. It's just taking a run at his dream, which he feels, right or wrong, he's ready for."

We can all sit back and question the thinking after a year in which Jevan threw as many interceptions as he did touchdowns.

Countless players have come back for their senior seasons and improved their games, thus improving their draft status/money, far more than underclassmen who have pulled the trigger and succeeded on the next level.

There are pros and cons to all arguments. Did he worry about risking injury if he came back? Did he feel he could not improve his cause to get to the next level with another season? Jaylon said those were not major considerations.

"We sat down as a family. Jevan had a Bible in front of him which he has turned to a lot since the Cotton Bowl. As a Father, that alone made me realize he had given this a lot of thought and made me proud," Jaylon continued. "We didn't say a whole lot. We didn't have to. Jevan simply said it was time to follow his dream."

Jaylon said they dicussed the money - potential earnings if he did come back and improve his stock - issue and Jevan's answer, again, was simple.

"He said, 'Dad, it's not about the money. It never has been. Besides, the league minimum is over $300,000 a year. How much more can someone spend?' It's really not about the money," Jaylon explained. "He told me that whether or not he made it in the NFL would not keep him from being successful in life. He has a degree, he has other interests and pursuits if the NFL does not work out."

Whether we agree with Snead's thought process or not is irrelevant. His dream, his choice, his life.

Selfishly, I wanted him to return for the good of the team. As much as his up-and-down play frustrated me sometimes in 2009, I still appreciate the value of the experience of 26 starts in Division I football and fully expected him to show vast improvement in 2K10.

Personally, I have great faith in the guys coming up - Nathan Stanley and Raymond Cotton. Throw Randall Mackey in the mix and I don't have a whole lot of anxiety about the quarterback position, but Snead's leaving, in my humble opinion, disrupts the natural flow of development for those guys.

Certainly, I could be all wet on that theory. One of those guys may be the second coming of Eli Manning for all I know, but I don't think another year of apprenticeship before being thrown into the fire would have done anything but help those three, individually and collectively.

But all that really doesn't matter now. It is what it is and discussing the situation further only keeps us from doing what we all have to do - move on without Jevan Snead.

In that movement forward, trust me, there are some excited candidates coming back. Nathan and Raymond are, to quote a text from Houston Nutt I got Thursday, "pumped."

Why wouldn't they be? As competitive athletes, one obstacle to them playing is out of the way, to put it bluntly, and the road is paved with opportunity. Now, in all likelihood, one of them will be the starting quarterback in the SEC for the Ole Miss Rebels.

So their development will have to be accelerated, but we're not talking about true freshmen here. We're talking about Stanley entering his third year and Cotton embarking on his second on this level. They can handle it.

I can't honestly sit here pecking away and say I agree with Jevan's decision to go pro early.

But I can say a few things with certainty and clarity.

One, I will never begrudge a person for following his dreams. I love dreamers. Many dreamers accomplish far more than anyone could imagine at the time.

Two, it wasn't my decision. It was Jevan's.

Three, if he had to leave, it is comforting to know Stanley/Cotton/Mackey are waiting in the wings, fully ready just yet or not.

Four, I wish Jevan all the luck in the world as he chases his dream and I thank him for two fun seasons with him at the helm.

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