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The Tragic Death of Former Ole Miss Star Quarterback Jevan Snead

Jevan Snead appeared destined for football greatness as a star high school quarterback in Texas. He had countless scholarship offers, including many from the best college teams in America. He opted for the University of Texas, but things didn’t work out and he transferred to the SEC and the University of Mississippi where he became a star.

After two years in Oxford, Snead declared for the NFL draft. His professional career, however, never panned out and he eventually returned to Texas to live in Austin. A year ago, the news shocked the sports world that the former Rebels star quarterback was dead at age 32. He died by suicide. Here’s a look back on the life and tragic death of Jevan Snead. 

Jevan Snead stars in high school and chooses Texas

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Jevan Snead joined the Stephenville High School Yellow Jackets football team as a freshman. Known for his rocket of an arm, Snead became the starting quarterback for the Texas high school powerhouse his junior season. In his two seasons starting at Stephenville, he finished with a 23-2 record and was two-time all-state. He was named a Parade All-American his senior season.

With numerous choices available for college, Snead opted to stay close to home and attend the University of Texas. It was there where he expected to learn for a season behind star quarterback Vince Young who had just won the national title with the Longhorns as a junior. 

Young, however, declared early for the NFL. With the starting quarterback job open, the true freshman Snead battled it out with redshirt freshman Colt McCoy. Head coach Mack Brown eventually named McCoy the starter. Snead saw limited action during his freshman season in Austin and opted to transfer following the season.

Jevan Snead becomes star at Ole Miss

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After a disappointing year in Austin, Jevan Snead sat out the 2007 season due to NCAA transfer rules. In 2008, Ole Miss Rebels head coach Houston Nutt named him the starter. All of Snead’s talent displayed in high school was unveiled for the national audience during Snead’s sophomore year in Oxford.

He finished the season throwing for 2,762 yards with 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. More importantly, Snead guided the No. 25-ranked Rebels to a berth in the Cotton Bowl against No. 7-ranked Texas Tech. During the contest, Snead was impressive. He finished the game going 18-of-29 for 292 and three touchdowns. Ole Miss pulled off the upset 47-34. 

After overcoming the swine flu early in 2009, Snead had a solid junior season leading the Rebels to a 9-4 mark and 4-4 in conference play. Once again, Ole Miss received an invite to the Cotton Bowl. And once again, the Rebels won, defeating the Oklahoma State Cowboys 21-7. 

The victory was nice, but it came with a price. In the second quarter, after Snead was picked off, he tried to make the tackle on the return. Instead, he was blindsided by a Cowboys player with a violent helmet-to-helmet hit that sent Snead flying with his head slamming into the ground. The blow was so jarring Snead’s helmet dislodged from his head.  

He sustained a concussion and headed to the sidelines. He did, however, return to the game in the fourth quarter.

The Ole Miss star quarterback suffers tragic death

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Following the season, Jevan Snead, who had been considered a top-2 quarterback prospect before his junior year, declared for the 2010 NFL draft. He went undrafted. Snead never played another down of football ever again. 

He returned to Texas and worked a variety of different jobs. Around that same time, he also began to experience symptoms of CTE, the condition now well-known in football circles that is caused by repeated head trauma.

“He didn’t remember any of the games he played in,” his sister Jennah Walker told Austin television station KVUE. “He didn’t remember a lot of his childhood.”

Over time, the symptoms worsened. On September 21, 2019, Snead tragically died. Sadly, Snead was so certain he suffered from CTE, months before his death he requested his family donate his brain to research. Following his death, his family honored his wishes.   

How to get help: In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor at the free Crisis Text Line.

All stats courtesy of College Football Reference.