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Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Ole Miss spring wrap-up

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Ole Miss Rebels
2008 overall record: 9-4

2008 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 8, kicker/punter: 1

Top returners

QB Jevan Snead, WR Dexter McCluster, WR Shay Hodge, OT John Jerry, DE Greg Hardy, DE Kentrell Lockett, LB Patrick Trahan, FS Kendrick Lewis, PK Joshua Shene

Key losses

OT Michael Oher, WR Mike Wallace, FB Jason Cook, DT Peria Jerry, SS Jamarca Sanford

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Dexter McCluster* (655 yards)
Passing: Jevan Snead* (2,762 yards)
Receiving: Shay Hodge* (725 yards)
Tackles: Kendrick Lewis* (85)
Sacks: Greg Hardy* (8.5)
Interceptions: Kendrick Lewis* (4)

Spring answers

2009 Schedule
Sept. 6 at Memphis
Sept. 12 BYE
Sept. 19 Southeastern Louisiana
Sept. 24 at South Carolina
Oct. 3 at Vanderbilt
Oct. 10 Alabama
Oct. 17 UAB
Oct. 24 at Arkansas
Oct. 31 at Auburn
Nov. 7 Northern Arizona
Nov. 14 Tennessee
Nov. 21 LSU
Nov. 28 at Mississippi State
Snead's team: If the Rebels are going to make a run at their first SEC championship in more than 40 years, Jevan Snead's the guy to take them there. He was terrific over the last half of last season and took it to another level this spring. Offensive coordinator Kent Austin will be able to expand the playbook with Snead under center and give him more freedom.

Powe emerges on defense: Jerrell Powe certainly waited long enough to play in a game for Ole Miss, and after learning on the job a year ago and getting his weight down, he showed this spring that he can be a difference-maker up front. He's poised to be a big part next season of one of the deepest defensive lines in the country.

Trahan the man: The Rebels have talented defensive linemen coming out of their ears, which is the strength of this defense. But keep an eye on outside linebacker Patrick Trahan, who had his moments last season and blossomed this spring. He's a big-play linebacker with the speed, strength and desire that it takes to be a star in this league.

Fall questions

Handling the hype: From a talent standpoint, Ole Miss ranks second only to Florida in the SEC. But this is entirely new ground for the Rebels. They're probably going to be a top-10 team entering the season, and the expectations are going to be off the charts. We'll find out a lot about this team's maturity, focus and leadership next fall, because the talent is there to be special.

Solidifying the left side: Michael Oher was Snead's bodyguard from his left tackle position last season, but Oher is now counting his money after being selected in the first round of the draft. Bradley Sowell, who played some at tight end last season, had an up-and-down spring. But he enters the fall as the Rebels' starting left tackle. Top signee Bobbie Massie arrives this summer.

Is Patterson the real deal? If signee Patrick Patterson is as good as he looks on tape, then Snead is really going to have a big time slinging the ball around next season. Patterson has the size and speed everybody's looking for in a receiver. We'll see in the fall if he also has the maturity and focus to play as a freshman in this league.