The best running back in the history of Kentucky football has declared for the 2019 NFL Draft. Benny Snell, Jr. will skip his senior season at UK and look to solidify himself now as one of the best running backs in the National Football League.
Snell has been a workhorse for the last three years at Kentucky and will hopefully become the school’s all-time leading rusher on New Year’s Day in the Citrus Bowl.
Benny was an unheralded recruit coming into UK, a three-star RB out of Westerville, Ohio. He had collected offers from a group of schools that were less than impressive: Kentucky, Cincinnati, Iowa, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Miami (Ohio), and Toledo.
He badly wanted to be recruited by the in-state Ohio State Buckeyes, but they weren’t interested. So, he opted to come to Kentucky and the rest is history.
“I’m so glad I’m at Kentucky, and I’m so glad I became the man I am,” Benny said on The Jim Rome Show. “I became bigger than I ever thought I’d be.”
Benny came into Kentucky in 2016 to serve as a backup for “Boom” Williams. After his freshman campaign started with two straight losses to Southern Miss and Florida and zero playing time, Snell finally got his chance against New Mexico State. And he made it count.
In Benny’s first game of his college career, he carried the ball 17 times for 136 yards and four touchdowns. It was just the beginning of what would end up being a historic career.
Despite only playing in 11 games in his freshman season, Snell finished eighth in the SEC in rushing yards with 1,091 and third in rushing touchdowns with 13. Not to mention, he was splitting time with “Boom” Williams. He helped the Cats to their first bowl game under Mark Stoops.
Kentucky fans went into 2017 confident that Benny Snell would be one of the top backs in the SEC. He garnered little preseason attention nationally, but the Cats knew they had a special player. He ended up third in the SEC in rushing with 1,333 yards and first in rushing touchdowns with 19. He helped UK earn their first back-to-back bowl appearances in a decade and became the first player in UK history with back-to-back 1,000 yard rushing seasons.
Finally, “Mr. Snell Ya Later” started getting the national praise he deserved heading into this season. And he didn’t shy away from it. He finished second in the SEC with 1,330 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. For the second straight year, defenses zoned in on him and it didn’t slow him down. The Cats were able to secure their first nine win season in 40 years, as well as knock off Florida for the first time in 32 years and Louisville.
He now holds the single-season record for rushing touchdowns (19), as well as the career records for most 100-yard rushing games (18), rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns (46). His 46 career rushing touchdowns are also good for third all time in the SEC behind only Herschel Walker and Tim Tebow. And after the bowl game, he’ll likely be UK’s career leader in rushing yards as he only needs 107 to surpass the great Sonny Collins.
Oh, and he’s achieved all these amazing feats in only three short years in college. Three years is all it took him to leave his mark on the Kentucky football program forever.
As far as the NFL goes, it’s a completely different game than college. Snell will need to improve his pass-catching numbers, but all NFL teams can use a “Bell Cow” running back. And his improvement over his three seasons at Kentucky should give teams confidence in his ability to get better catching the ball out of the backfield.
His freshman season at UK, Snell only caught two passes for 39 yards. In his second season, he reeled in 10 receptions for 72 yards. And this year, he had 17 catches for 105 yards. The numbers aren’t impressive, but they’ve improved over the years.
His running ability speaks for itself, but SB Nation’s Gang Green Nation did an excellent job profiling Benny as an NFL Draft prospect here.
So, the career of the best running back in Kentucky football history has come to an end. But hopefully, we’ll be watching Benny Snell on Sundays for years to come. #SNELLYEAH!