How good is Benny Snell Jr.? That is an easy answer for all of Big Blue Nation and anyone with a pulse; he is damn good. How good could he be? That is the question I am going to take a stab at in this piece.
The short answer is he is pacing to be one Kentucky’s best running backs to come through Lexington. However, when you look at his numbers, the more likely answer becomes he is pacing to be THE best running back this school has ever seen and could arguably be one of UK’s greatest players of all time, regardless of position.
JUST THE NUMBERS
As you will see below, we are not even through Snell’s sophomore season and he is already showing up on all-time stat lists for the school.
He is most likely going to be #1 ALL-TIME career rushing TDs after this season. He only needs two more to do that and he has 4 games to do it.
He is also got a great chance of breaking the single-season TD mark of 17 set by Moe Williams in 1995. Snell is averaging 1.3 TDs per game this season and he needs 5 more to break Williams’ record, meaning just keep doing what he is doing and he will end up with 18.
Snell has already tied for the most TDs in one game with 4 against New Mexico State in 2016. A number that could easily be eclipsed in the next two seasons to put him alone at the top.
Clearly, Benny Snell is amazing at scoring TDs, he has a nose for the end zone that few players do. It is almost like the closer he gets to the end zone the stronger and harder he runs. It is like poetry in motion watching Snell refuse to go down before the goal line.
However, in the yardage department, he comes back down to earth… well, sort of. Snell is already in the top-10 all-time of Kentucky running backs in career rushing yards at 1,988. He will most certainly pass Artose Pinner this season and go into his junior campaign in 8th place probably needing about 1,300 yards to catch Sonny Collins… as a junior.
The single-season rushing record is likely to stand at the 1,600 mark established by Moe Williams in 1995. However, if Benny gets to about 300 carries (23 carries per game) in any of the next two seasons he could catch that. My guess is he ends up passing Artose Pinner’s 1,414-yard season in 2002 at least.
The single-game rushing record of 299 by Moe Williams is likely to stand as well. Kentucky is simply unlikely to distribute that much workload to one person in today’s game of football. If you notice below, Moe Williams has three games of 238+ yards and they all came in that magical 1995 season. That is 809 yards, over half of Williams’ 1,600 coming in three games.
Considering the consistency you get from Snell, if he were to rip off three games of 200+ yards in the next few years, he would SHATTER the single-season rushing record because I guarantee he would not only get 791 yards in the other 9-10 games besides those 3.
PROJECTING SNELL’S HISTORY
You just got the objective version, here is the subjective version. I did not want to go overboard and project Snell’s future numbers as a reach. I am also assuming he stays 4 years, which may or may not happen. Snell is such a great running back that it is likely he could go after his junior season, however, he has Boom Williams as a cautionary tale. Snell does not have the measurables Boom had, or the explosiveness of Boom and we see what happened.
That is not to say Benny Snell will not have an NFL career, he certainly will. Some team is going to be lucky to draft him in, and he will proceed to be a staple in the NFL as a possible every-down back that has a 4-5 year run of success putting him in the mid-to-upper tier of NFL backs, in my opinion.
Snell could be a slightly less explosive version of Todd Gurley in the NFL. Some of Gurley’s scouting report comments pre-draft; they may remind you of someone:
- Tough, Physical Runner
- Power Back who runs over defenders
- Great feet
- Burst to the hole
- Willing Blocker in Blitz pickup
- Hard-nosed runner between the tackles
- Has a nose for the end-zone
- Wears down defenses
- Runs well in the second half
- Intimidates defenses
- Good character
Ok, on to projecting his college career. As I mentioned earlier, I did not want to make anything a reach, so I went conservative and kept Snell at a steady pace going forward.
For the remainder of 2017, I simply kept his 21 carries per game, 1.3 TDs, and 4.8 YPC and carried that forward. This would leave Snell with a 17 TD, 1,300-yard season. This would be good for tied all-time season rushing TDs and 3rd on the all-time season rushing yards list.
For Snell’s junior season you will see I backed off his carries from 272 in 2017 to 240 in 2018. I believe UK will have more of a group presence next season at the RB position and will not need to rely on Snell to carry it over 20 times per game. I think you could see slightly lower than 2017 numbers but still great at 1,248 yards and 15 TDs.
If, and that is an IF Benny Snell is a senior at UK and not on the NFL field I would imagine he would not only be the focus and workhorse similar to this season, he would demand it. I pegged him at 260 carries and a slightly better YPC at 5.4 (same as Moe Williams career, but lower than Snell’s current YPC) to get him to 1,404 yards, 18 TDs.
You will also see where this would leave him in his career numbers in relation to Sonny Collins and Moe Williams. It is a no-brainer that Snell would be the greatest running back to wear the blue and white if this panned out.
Enjoy Mr. Snell Ya Later while you can Big Blue Nation.
ONE STEP FURTHER
So, now that we have established that 4 years of Benny Snell would obliterate UK record books and put him alone at the top of the historical rankings, I wanted to take it a step further and ask the question, could he be in the argument for greatest UK Football Player ever?
It is a tough question and you may dismiss it immediately, but consider this. If Snell reaches projections, he will be at the top of virtually every Running Back statistic, and he would also be just behind Tim Couch in career total TDs. Couch is #3 with 78 TDs, and Snell would finish in the 60’s most likely.
It is hard to pit him against a QB who put UK on the map nationally, went to a Heisman ceremony, and was the top pick in the NFL draft, but I do think it puts Snell in the discussion with Couch, Lorenzen, Woodson, Williams, et al.
You will notice on the career total TDs list, there are no non-QBs, not yet anyway. Below is a listing(s) of what it *could* look like in the record books with 4 years of Snell.