Before each season begins, the college football scene is littered with potential award winners for some of the sports’ most prestigious honors.
This year, several Kentucky Wildcats made these preseason lists. Junior running back Benny Snell is up for three. Could actually take home any or all of that hardware?
Let’s start by looking no further than the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award. This award is given out annually to the best college football player in the country as decided by a group of NCAA coaches and sports information directors. That’s an impressive list to be on, and one I’m sure Snell feels he deserves.
Snell will no doubt be the focal point of the Wildcats’ offense this season. Without Stephen Johnson running the show, the Cats will look to their junior running back to lead this year’s team.
The last five winners of this award were all Heisman Trophy winners as well. Now, while all of Big Blue Nation would love to see their star running back on that stage in New York during September striking the Heisman pose, the chances of that are slim.
Kentucky will be going with a completely new quarterback under center and the Cats play in the vaunted SEC. Most of those awards go to the best player on one of the best teams in the country. While Snell is undoubtedly the best player for the Cats, Kentucky will struggle mightily to reach the status of one of the best teams in the country.
Snell’s chances of winning the Walter Camp Award: 5%
Let’s move on to the Maxwell Award. Several sportscasters, sports writers and college football coaches get to weigh in on this award, which is given to the best all-around player in college football.
Similar to the Walter Camp Award, the Maxwell Trophy has typically been given out to the best player on one of college football’s best teams. The past four winners of this award also took home the Heisman Trophy.
The award has been dominated by quarterbacks of late, with 13 of the last 15 award winners going to QBs. Only one, Derrick Henry in 2015, was a running back.
Those numbers don’t bode well for Snell. Again, the Cats will likely not be part of college football’s elite, and even if they were, the deck will be stacked against Snell due to the position he plays.
Snell’s chances of winning the Maxwell Award: 5%
Now, let’s get serious. The Doak Walker Award has been given to the best running back in college football since 1990. The award carries a few extra qualifications other than being good at football. The winner must also be in good academic standing and on track to graduate within one year of their classification.
This award is given to the best player regardless of his team’s success. Bryce Love of Stanford won the award last year and the Cardinal finished 9-5. The previous year, D’Onta Foreman, whose Texas Longhorns went 5-7, took home the trophy. Obviously, team success is not paramount to take home the Doak Walker Award.
Bryce Love is returning for his senior season at Stanford and has to be considered the front runner. However, Snell rushed for 1,333 yards last season and had 19 touchdowns. He became just the ninth player in UK history to rush for 2,000 yards in his career.
This award is tailor made for Snell. His running style, Eddie Gran’s offense and the likely dependency Kentucky will have on its running game could vault Snell to the national stage and into the thick of the race for this award.
Snell’s chances of winning the Doak Walker Award: 30%
Kentucky fans and the voters of these respective awards will get a better idea of Snell’s chances once the season begins. But one things is for sure, so long as he and the offensive line stay healthy, Snell is poised for a monster season.