Kentucky's Snell: 'I'm the best RB in SEC'

Benny Snell ran for 1,333 yards and 19 TDs last season.Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

By Anthony Gimino, The Sports Xchange

Kentucky junior running back Benny Snell didn't make any stutter steps when facing a direct question at SEC Media Days on Monday.

Asked if he was the best running back in the conference, he confidently replied: "I am the best running back in the SEC."

He just might be.

Snell isn't the biggest name among SEC running backs -- and, certainly, part of that has to do with playing at Kentucky -- but he earned second-team all-conference honors from the league coaches last season and is a first-team 2018 preseason pick selection by Lindy's College Football Annual.

"To my freshman year until now, I feel like I'm the best I've ever been," he said. "My time is now."

Snell ran for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, including 1,333 last season, when he rushed for 19 touchdowns. He has 2,424 career yards and could break the school career rushing record this season.

Kentucky has gone 7-6 in each of the past two seasons, making back-to-back bowl appearances under coach Mark Stoops. The Wildcats are trying to get over the hump in the SEC East, which figures to be dominated by 2017 national runner-up Georgia again this season.

Snell, who is rated the fourth-best junior running back by NFLDraftScout.com, is part of the group -- including NFL prospect linebacker Josh Allen -- that will be trying to push Kentucky past 4-4 in the SEC.

"He has been a big focus for us, and he's been a workhorse," Stoops said of Snell. "You have to admire his ability to go back day after day and run after run in his consistency. He gets tough yards. You know how tough they are in this league. And Benny's been extremely consistent.

"I think what is most impressive about him is that attitude, that chip on his shoulder, playing the game the way it's supposed to be done; it's like that every day. Whether it's in the weight room, the training session in the summer, every practice, every scrimmage, he goes hard. He's very physical."

Snell (5-11, 223) finished with a flourish last season, rushing for 777 yards and 12 scores on 123 carries in the final five regular-season games.

According to NFLDraftScout.com senior analyst Rob Rang: "Snell does not boast the traditional cut-up frame of most NFL running backs. He is quicker and more elusive than his relatively square-build suggests, however, reminiscent of former Florida Atlantic and NFL standout Alfred Morris with his deceptive burst and power."

With several top running backs having departed the SEC for the NFL -- Auburn's Kerryon Johnson, LSU's Derrius Guice and Georgia's Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, among others -- Snell certainly should be among the conference's best.

Alabama senior Damien Harris is a top NFL prospect, although he might have to share carries with former five-star recruit Najee Harris and others in the Crimson Tide backfield. Georgia's D'Andre Swift should take advantage of playing time and possibly emerge as a Heisman candidate.

Mississippi State's Aeris Williams, Missouri's Damarea Crockett and Texas A&M's Trayveon Williams each has a 1,000-yard season to his credit and could have big seasons, too.

"There's been some great players, but Benny is certainly worthy of the hype that he gets because of his consistency," Stoops said. "He's done it in this league at Kentucky his first two years, and he spent over a thousand yards each of those years, and we look forward to him doing that again this year."

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