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Recapping Ole Miss' spring game

4/20/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Now the real challenge begins for Ole Miss: Can the Rebels handle the hype, and can they deal with the kind of expectations this program hasn't faced in decades?

What we know for sure exiting the spring is that the Rebels have the quarterback to go as far as they want to. Junior Jevan Snead is one of the top six or seven quarterbacks in the country and was brilliant in the spring game. He finished 11-of-15 for 254 yards and three touchdowns.

It's also clear that this is Snead's team. He was still feeling his way through this time a year ago and had yet to take a snap in an SEC game. But he's a proven commodity now and also a much stronger leader.

Snead shouldn't have any shortage of playmakers around him. He threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to Markeith Summers on Saturday and also connected with Dexter McCluster and Shay Hodge on touchdown strikes.

The Rebels are going to move McCluster around again next fall, and he should be a little more durable now that he's gained some weight. He's their go-to guy when they shift into their direct-snap Wildcat package.

The two guys winning the most improved awards for the spring were running back Devin Thomas and defensive tackle Jerrell Powe. Thomas didn't play much last season after struggling with a surgically repaired ankle, but had 68 rushing yards and a touchdown on four carries in the spring game.

Powe is noticeably lighter and moving better than he ever has. He has a chance to be a force in the middle of what's already a deep and talented Ole Miss defensive line. The Rebels had 111 tackles for loss last season, and defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix has the personnel to employ that same attacking style next fall.

It looks like Bradley Sowell enters the fall as the starter at left offensive tackle, replacing Michael Oher. It was an up-and-down spring for Sowell, who was demoted to second team at one point. He may have his hands full when heralded prep school signee Bobbie Massie gets on campus this summer.

There was one bit of bad news coming out of the Ole Miss camp last weekend. Running back Enrique Davis was arrested for disorderly conduct following the spring game on Saturday night, according to a report by Parrish Alford of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.

Here's a link to Ole Miss' Web site, which includes a roundup, stats and quotes from the Rebels' spring game.