In just two years at the University of Kentucky, Benny Snell has done more than most UK running backs have done in a career. Despite all of his success, he can be better.
After rewriting Kentucky’s record books, the dominant running back was a First Team All-SEC selection in 2017. He does not need to prove much on the field this spring. The primary objective for Snell is to remain healthy, but that doesn’t mean he will be sitting on the sideline.
“He’s gonna go full speed, that doesn’t matter. Whether it’s two reps or 22 reps, he’s going full speed,” Eddie Gran said after last week’s second spring practice. The next goal for Benny is not so easy.
“What we’ve gotta get him to, if he does two reps that they’re perfect,” Gran said. “If he does 22 reps, that they’re perfect, because that’s how he wants to be. If you’re gonna be great, those are your standards and those are his standards.”
Through just two practices, Snell already had one important learning experience.
“He got all excited today, got cranked up and he had a brainfart on the next play. But it was a great learning experience for him. To be able to be a great player, you’ve got to reel everything back in and you’ve got to be able to focus. You’ve got to be able to go to the next play. That was really a good teaching moment for him.”
Last year Snell hit a rough patch in the middle of the season. Benny thought he had everything figured out, which was not the case.
“If you think you arrived any second of the day as an athlete, you’re done. You’re toast.” Gran told him, “Listen, don’t think you’ve arrived. Somebody’s chasing you everyday in California, in Texas and Georgia and everywhere. If you’ll just go and have that great effort and energy that you bring everyday, what he has in his heart and competes, he’s going to have a chance. But if you think you’ve arrived…we’ve been there before. There was a time when he thought he arrived. And he’ll tell you that. But he did change that and that’s what you love about him.”
Snell’s next opportunity to be perfect is one week from today when Kentucky returns to practice after spring break.
Behind Benny, there’s one player with an opportunity to impress the coaches this spring. A.J. Rose received plenty of hype, but was never consistent enough to consistently crack into the rotation.
“Make me play you,” is Gran’s message to Rose. “Benny made me play him and he did that by learning the offense, being right, being accountable everyday, having some toughness.”
Gran liked the growth he saw from Rose at the end of the 2017 season. This spring, it’s time to prove it.
“If he continues to do what he’s doing and continues to show his toughness. He needs to get into some scrimmages and carry the ball 12-15 times and then practice on Monday. That’s what I’d love to see. Mentally right now, he’s there. Mentally, I’m really excited about him. He’s doing everything we’re asking him to do. No MA’s (missed assignments), I like where he’s at.”