LEXINGTON, Ky. — Benny Snell said it’s “basically” stalking.
Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran has a constant eye on his star sophomore running back, but it’s far from criminal. It’s an attempt to keep Snell grounded instead of relishing the successes that came from his freshman season.
“He’s always keeping his eye on me,” Snell said. “He always has people keeping their eye on me whenever I’m not around and just things of that nature.”
Snell’s objective heading into his sophomore campaign is a tunnel-vision focus. He rushed for 1,091 yards last season — the most ever by a Kentucky freshman. And while he split carries with Boom Williams, this season it’s his backfield.
But Snell’s past successes aren’t making things easier — quite the opposite.
“I’m on him pretty hard,” Gran said. “I ride him like no other. When you’re the starting running back or you’re the starting quarterback, there’s a responsibility with that.”
Buying into the hype doesn’t seem to be the problem for Snell. The tougher task is slowing him down. Earlier in the spring, Gran described Snell as a player you have to say “whoa” to instead of “giddy up.” And while the so-called whoa players are preferred, sometimes Snell is difficult to rein in.
“Sometimes I go a little extra, a little overboard,” Snell said. “(Gran) tells me to calm down, come back a little bit. I need somebody like that ’cause I do go overboard sometimes.”
Like on Friday night at Commonwealth Stadium when Gran limited Snell to just 3 carries in the Blue-White game. It wasn’t worth the risk of playing him more. Snell seemed to handle it well on the sidelines, finding time to take pictures with fans, but he would’ve liked more carries.
“I was flipping out in my head, but I didn’t show it ’cause national TV,” Snell said.
And besides the TV audience, Gran was surely watching him from somewhere.
“He’s just doing it for the good, though,” Snell said. “It’s for the good.”