Ole Miss concluded their 2003 season with a victory over Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl 31-28. With the season completed, the Eli Manning era came to a close.
Eli had given Ole Miss 10 wins, a share of the SEC West title, and a January bowl-game victory with his senior season, while breaking many of his father's records.
The following season, the quarterback duties were given to Michael Spurlock. Spurlock, who had been trained by Eli, underperformed and didn't fit well with David Cutcliffe's offense.
Enter Robert Lane, a four-star QB who declined an MLB contract to play football, and who chose Ole Miss over the, then (and now) national champion, LSU Tigers. Robert Lane showed signs of life, but didn't bring consistency every time out, which led to Ethan Flatt. A tall QB who had a strong arm, but, as the trend continues, inconsistency haunted the QB position.
Then, there's the Schaeffer saga. Brent Schaeffer was dismissed from Tennessee in 2005, and he took his game to the College of Seqouias, where he again gained the recruitment hype and was labeled the No. 1 JUCO recruit in the country, according to Rivals.com.
Schaeffer chose the Rebels over the NC State Wolfpack, and needless to say, was another underperforming QB who was probably better-suited for the spread offense, in which the coaches tried to implement late into his senior season and proved to be too late.
Seth Adams now enters the equation, a walk-on QB who is a great story, but lacked (which I hate to keep repeating, but it is a trend) consistency and the ability to get the Rebels over the hump.
Now, there's Snead. Jevan Snead, 6'3" 215lbs, committed to Florida early in his recruitment in 2005, but after Urban Meyer and Florida started looking around for other prized QB recruits, and found one in in-state, five-star Tim Tebow (that worked out well, huh?). Snead withdrew his committment and decided to stay in-state himself and sign with the University of Texas Longhorns.
Texas went on to win the national championship with Vince Young making one miraculous play after another in the Rose Bowl, defeating the highly favored USC Trojans with their stars Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart.
With the spotlight Vince Young earned came his decision to forego his senior season and declare for the 2006 NFL Draft. This now puts Snead in a great position as he has put himself in a position to battle with a redshirt freshman, Colt McCoy, for the starting job.
Many fans fully expected Jevan Snead to win the starting job and thought he should, but there was only one opinion that mattered, and that was Mack Brown's. Mack Brown announced Colt McCoy as the starter.
McCoy was injured some throughout the season, and Snead got some playing time and a start with it. He completed 26 of 49 passes for 371 yards and two touchdowns. With all that, when the season was completed, Jevan Snead informed Mack Brown that he would not be returning to Texas, and he would like to be granted a release to transfer.
The release was granted and Snead narrowed his choices to Ole Miss, Louisville, TCU, and Houston. A trip to Oxford, MS and a look at the depth chart to see two senior QBs at the top made Snead realize that Ole Miss was the clear choice.
Snead then sat out the 2007 season due to NCAA transfer rules and saw the coach that had recruited him to Ole Miss, Ed Orgeron, be fired after a shocking loss to Mississippi State, a game in which the Rebels experienced an appalling letdown (they were up by 14 points with less than 10 minutes to play).
Questions and rumors about Snead being unhappy flew as Houston Nutt, a run-oriented coach, was announced head coach two days after the firing of Orgeron.
One rumor was that Mitch Mustain, a good friend to Snead during Elite 11 camp their senior years, called Snead to tell him about the situation he went through with Nutt at Arkansas, and to tell Snead to transfer.
Snead later denied the rumor and said that he's excited to play for Nutt. Ole Miss then signed a spread-offense oriented offensive coordinator in Kent Austin, who is a former Rebel QB.
When asked after his hiring about quarterback play, Houston Nutt's response started and ended with Jevan Snead. Snead brings a solid arm as Joe Schad of ESPN.com reported on College Football Live "...Snead has one of the top-five arms in college football..." after Snead's Grove Bowl performance.
Snead also has many weapons to use. Ole Miss has an experienced receiving corps that includes Dexter McCluster, Mike Wallace, and Shay Hodge, as well as an impressive bundle of running backs that include Cordera Eason and Enrique Davis.
Snead will be protected by an offensive line that is led by All-American Michael Oher, who declared for the 2008 NFL Draft, but withdrew a day before the deadline. This combination makes for a talented and explosive offense.
Ole Miss fans are hesitant to proclaim Snead "the next Eli", but believe he will provide some relief at the position that has haunted Ole Miss for the past four seasons. Will Snead go on to break records and be one of the all-time great quarterbacks at Ole Miss?
Who knows? But Ole Miss fans can assume that production will be the best it has been since 2003.
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