Congratulations. You just witnessed one of the greatest seasons EVER by a Kentucky running back, arguably the best ever.
In just his second season in the Bluegrass, Benny Snell Jr. has rewritten the Kentucky football record book. The powerful, persistent running back fought for every single yard, no matter the circumstance. A player fans are proud to call their own accomplished feats few at Kentucky have ever done before him.
Snell finished the season with 1,318 yards and 18 touchdowns on 256 carries, good for 5.15 yards per career and 109.8 yards per game. Snell led the SEC in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, a feat only three other UK running backs have accomplished since 1956: Artose Pinner (2002), Moe Williams (1995) and Sonny Collins (1973).
Snell’s 1,318 yards ranked third among Kentucky single-season totals and it’s the most yards since Pinner’s 1,414-yard season in ’02. Snell became the first Kentucky running back to every rush for more than 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. Only two other SEC running backs have recorded more than 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns in their first two seasons, Herschel Walker and Knowshon Moreno.
Snell shattered Kentucky’s single-season rushing touchdown record and in the process became the school’s career-leader in rushing touchdowns. He also set a new record for points scored in a season with 110. Snell is now just 1,427 yards away from passing Sonny Collins as UK’s all-time leading rusher.
There aren’t records for touchdown celebrations, but if there were, he would own those too.
The Heel Click
The “I Told You So”
— Josh Edwards (@JEdwar247) September 18, 2017
“L’s Down” No Matter What
The “HOLD ME!”
There’s no denying Snell’s greatness. What makes his 2017 accomplishments even more remarkable is how he did it and who he was surrounded by.
In 2016 Benny had Boom Williams, a complementary running back that could lighten his load and change up the pace to throw off defenses. Williams had 171 carries last year; this year Sihiem King, Lynn Bowden and A.J. Rose combined for 97 total carries. Snell had 70 more carries than a year ago, but was never fazed.
Snell carried a heavier load with a much larger target. A mysterious freshman that surprised 2016 opponents became the focal point of the scouting report for Kentucky’s 2017 opponents. To make matters worse, Kentucky’s offense struggled to keep defenses honest without Jeff Badet and a consistent deep passing threat. Stephen Johnson was formidable, but he could not stretch out defenses, allowing opponents to stack the box at their leisure. Still, Snell could not be stopped.
That wasn’t all the adversity Snell was forced to face. In the preseason his best run blocker and the second-largest player on the team, left tackle Cole Mosier, tore his ACL and was forced to miss the entire season. Coming off an All-SEC junior year, Nick Haynes was poised for another superb season. Instead, the offensive line’s captain lost 40 pounds due to Type II diabetes complications and did not play for half a season. Still, Snell persisted until the offensive line figured it out.
Snell’s sophomore season was one of the best Kentucky fans have ever seen, maybe the best ever. Luckily, it’s not the last we’ll see from Snell in a Kentucky uniform.