HOOVER, Ala. — Benny Snell, Kentucky’s rapping running back, had a lot going on this offseason.
He got a giant “Snell Yeah” tattoo stretched across his stomach. He posted and then took down a rap video starring Benny Tha Bandit. And then he felt underappreciated as an SEC running back. Still, the bulldozer of a back who logged the best freshman rushing campaign in school history seems headed for a star sophomore season.
A look at Snell’s pinned tweet gives a glimpse into the underappreciated mindset. It’s a link to a list ESPN put out ranking the SEC’s top-5 running backs. Snell isn’t on it, and his absence elicited a three-letter, all caps response: L O L.
The confidence the tweet conveyed has been there since Snell arrived in Lexington. Kentucky safety Mike Edwards drew from a memory in fall camp last season when Snell was practicing with the third team.
“He was running the ball against the first team and got a big play and was just talking stuff,” Edwards said at SEC Media Days. “I’m like, ‘Who’s that?’ He’s confident. I like that in him. I think it actually helps him.”
Snell ran for 1,091 yards — eighth in the SEC — despite not touching the ball in his first two games. Not only did he run for the most yards of any freshman in Kentucky history, he also recorded the single-game record with 192 rushing yards against Missouri.
Pro Football Focus puts the Kentucky back in elite SEC company. The highest-rated returning running back in the conference is LSU’s Derrius Guice. Snell is second.
“Benny’s really maturing in his role of our starting running back,” quarterback Stephen Johnson said at SEC Media Days. “I’m really proud of him cause he could be getting a big head right now, but he’s not allowing that to happen.”
Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran called Snell a “whoa guy” in the spring. The staff has a good problem with Snell; coaches must tell him to slow down rather than speed up.
“Benny’s a passionate football player,” Gran said at the time. “Not a lot of people have as much passion, but he’s got to learn to control that.”
Carrying tacklers on his back is but one of Snell’s favorite activities. Another is rapping. He changed his major from communications to media audio software. He’ll take production classes to work on his own songs. Snell, also known as Benny Tha Bandit, has four tracks on his SoundCloud page.
“Benny’s a man of many talents,” Johnson said diplomatically. “He’s got a lot of times to do those things. I’m just happy with Benny’s play of football.”
Edwards smiled when asked what he thought of Snell’s rapping.
“Benny’s just Benny,” Edwards said. “He just loves being out there. You’ve got to respect it.”