March 11, 2008

Eason's ready for his chance

For two years, the biggest cog of the Ole Miss offense carried the ball time and time again.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis carried the load for the Rebels, rushing 464 times over the past two seasons. And while Green-Ellis ran, Cordera Eason watched.

Now, that's all over.

Eason enters spring practice as the logical heir to the running back position, and he said, the time's now.

"I've waited two years. I've been as patient as I could be," Eason said. "I sat behind Ben, and he was a great back, but I've just been waiting so long.

"I feel like it's my turn."

Eason's grabbed the responsibility and run with it. He said he's made it a priority to show the coaching staff he's ready.

"Up to now, I've been doing everything in my power not to let the coaches down," Eason said. "I've been trying to give them nothing but good things to say about me by how I work out and by how I carry myself, staying out of trouble and all that. I'm just trying to stay on their good side."

In his time at Ole Miss, Eason has gotten his weight down to 225 pounds, and after working with new strength and conditioning coach Don Decker, Eason's feeling more nimble.

"Coach D, he's focusing on explosion, speed and quickness plus power - the little things to take us to the next level. It's helping out a lot," Eason said. "You can tell the difference in all the players bodies and how they're moving.

"It's crazy. We're stretching stuff I never knew I could stretch."

Decker's not the only member of the staff he's enjoyed working with. Eason said he's gotten a good feeling about offensive coordinator Kent Austin.

"He's very into his craft," Eason said. "That makes the players better and makes us really want to play for him."

But it's not just Austin. Head coach Houston Nutt, running backs coach Derrick Nix and the rest of the staff have made an impression around the football offices that's different than in past.

"It's great around here now. Last year, it was like there was a lot of pressure on us. Coach (Ed Orgeron) and his style of coaching was real intense," Eason said. "Coach Nutt's up-tempo, but at the same time, he's laid back. He's a real players coach.

"It just feels like a big family here, and small things like that can really carry onto the football field."

Eason said he's surprised the transformation happened so quickly.

"It's always hard when you make a change," he said. "You wouldn't expect for it to happen this quick, but it feels like it happened overnight."

But whether changes happen quickly or slowly, Eason said he knows he has to make the most of his opportunities.

"I've got to prove myself," Eason said. "I'm the No. 1 tailback coming in this spring, but that really doesn't mean anything. Any time, it could be taken away."

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