Benny Snell Jr. might be the best kept secret in all of college football. He could end up being the best running back in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Fans of SEC football know exactly who Kentucky Wildcats running back Benny Snell Jr. is. Over the course of the past two seasons, he’s been a thorn in the side of virtually every defense he’s faced, with a nose for the end zone and the uncanny ability to consistently move the chains.
As the 2018 college football season nears, however, Snell has been consistently overlooked by analysts and scouts in 2019 NFL Draft circles.
When Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN revealed his early position rankings for the 2019 NFL Draft, Snell wasn’t one of the 10 running backs listed. When Pro Football Focus released their players to watch, Snell was again excluded.
Yet, if one looks at the statistics, watches the games, and double checks the film, it’s easy to see that Snell is indeed an NFL-caliber talent.
When Snell arrived on campus as a freshman, one could argue that only cornerback was a deeper position for Kentucky than running back. Boom Williams was a 1,000-yard rusher, Jojo Kemp was a respected senior leader, and there were no guaranteed touches for the new arrival.
Snell wasn’t utilized in either of Kentucky’s first two games, but in his FBS debut, he ran for 136 yards and four touchdowns on just 17 carries.
That set the tone for what’s been a remarkable career in Lexington. He ran for 1,091 yards and 13 touchdowns as a freshman, including an average of 5.9 yards per carry, and a 192-yard performance against the Missouri Tigers.
In 2017, the sophomore sensation again dominated on the ground by doing what he does best: Picking up yards after contract.
That should at least generate interest.
Snell finished 2017 with 1,333 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns, as well as 10 receptions—eight more than he pulled in as a freshman. He ran for 211 yards against the Louisville Cardinals, and produced a trio of three-touchdown games: Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt.
Snell even ran for 94 yards and a touchdown against the Georgia Bulldogs—a team that allowed six total rushing touchdowns all season.
Perhaps Kentucky’s bowl game left a sour taste in viewers’ mouths, as Snell was ejected for making contact with an official. He’s one of just 19 players in SEC history to reach 2,000 rushing yards before their junior season, however, and is regarded around the program as a character athlete.
Snell may be overlooked in the short-term, but with another explosive season at Kentucky, he could solidify his place as the best running back in the 2019 NFL Draft.
If you don’t know Benny Snell Jr., get familiar.