OXFORD, Miss. – With quarterback Jevan Snead and defensive end Greg Hardy leading a rejuvenated Mississippi program the Rebels look to contend for the SEC title.

However, coach Houston Nutt must first tackle a weight loss problem as his squad prepares for one of the most anticipated Rebel seasons.

“The problem that I have is about 600 pounds,” Nutt said. “I got 600 pounds – two first-team all-Americans – we’re missing.”

Michael Oher and Peria Jerry moved on to the NFL where they were first-round draft picks. They left behind a team expected to be in the top 10 and challenge for the Southeastern Conference Western Division title. But to do that, Nutt must not only find suitable replacements for those two, but big-play wide receiver Michael Wallace – the second fastest player at the NFL combine – and leading tackler Jamarca Sanford.

The loss of so much talent to the NFL has done nothing to diminish the expectations building around Oxford. But with Snead and Hardy leading back in Nutt’s second season, all anyone can talk about is the possibility of going to Atlanta in December for a shot at the title.