Benny Snell did not travel to SEC Media Days alone. As always, the Kentucky running back carried a chip on his shoulder.
“He brings that attitude, he brings that chip on his shoulder each and every day,” Mark Stoops said. “He comes to every scrimmage, every practice and plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. He makes very tough yards. He’s been very reliable. I really appreciate what he’s done.”
It may be a tired cliche, but it’s the best way to describe how Snell carries himself. No matter what, he feels disrespected. Snell has made proving people wrong a habit, and he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
Kentucky fans first saw Snell run angry in the third game of the 2016 season. After being overlooked in a pair of losses, the true freshman did not waste an opportunity to show Eddie Gran he was ready to become a star in the SEC. Snell ran angry until he had more than 1,000 yards and the school’s freshman rushing record.
Snell impressed plenty of people, but not enough to be considered one of the conference’s best backs entering the 2017 season. When critics called out the Cats, he burned their words. Many doubted he could do it again, calling for a sophomore slump. Snell responded by doing things no other Wildcat had done before him. He became the first UK running back to post consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and shattered the school’s career rushing touchdown record.
As he enters his third and likely final season at UK, Benny will earn preseason All-SEC honors, but that recognition isn’t enough to satisfy Snell. His motivation comes from that incredibly large chip on his shoulder, one that’s been there for years.
“It really started from high school,” Snell explained. “Coming into high school I was always an Ohio State guy. I wanted to be a hometown hero, but that wasn’t the case. I found myself at camps, being the best one and still guys were winning running back MVPs, when I was the best one. I knew I was. From then, all the way till now — being a low-ranked recruit, being not productive, being at Kentucky — I forever will keep this chip on my shoulder.”
To make matters worse for his opponents, Snell’s season ended early with an unjust ejection in the Music City Bowl. It’s provided a little extra motivation, even though that’s unnecessary.
“No, I don’t think it needs to grow,” Stoops laughed. “It’s a big enough chip…He’s ready to go.”
Snell is prepared to prove that he’s the best running back in the SEC, a statement he reiterated multiple times at SEC Media Days. He knows what it will take to receive the respect he believes he deserves.
“You win games,” Snell said bluntly. “It’s all about production. It’s all about being better than you were last year. It’s time to win games now.”
Is Snell better this year? “From my freshman year, to now, I feel like I’m the best I’ve ever been. My time is now.”
— Josh Edwards (@JEdwar247) September 18, 2017
* While writing this post, I could not stop thinking of this line from Malibu’s Most Wanted. “She had a big chip on her shoulder, till she ate it.”