By LARRY VAUGHT
Let others talk about whether Benny Snell Jr. can become Kentucky’s all-time leading rusher or will leave for the National Football League after his junior season.
The Kentucky junior running back and his parents, April and Ben, don’t discuss either subject. Instead, they are focused on Kentucky’s season that starts Saturday when the Cats host Central Michigan.
“The NFL is not something we talk about. He is a junior, so the focus is on this season,” said April Snell. “I hear people talking about it (the NFL) but it is nothing we are sitting down and giving serious consideration. It’s just not our focus now.
“As of right now, I can honestly say we have not done any type of talking about that. We are just going on with the season and focusing on the year. You never know what can happen. There’s not anything you want to put all your eggs into. I know juniors can leave (for the NFL) but it is time now to get wins, get bowl eligible, win a bowl game, maybe get nine wins. That’s what we are focused on here.”
Snell has 2,424 rushing yards — he became just the 19th SEC player to reach 2,000 yards prior to his junior season — and is the only player in school history to have consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season. He needs 1,412 yards to pass Sonny Collins to become Kentucky’s all-time leading career rusher.
“We don’t talk about that a lot, either,” April Snell said. “What we try to focus in on is what he needs to be ready to go into games. Anything that comes away from what he does in games is just icing on the cake. He’s not trying to break records. He’s trying to win games. If he gets it (the rushing record) along the way, we will take it. Getting those wins is the big things. If we get that (the rushing record), too, then we’ll celebrate. But now is the time to get those wins.”
Benny Snell’s “outgoing personality” is what his mother calls a “mixture” of her personality and her husband’s personality.
“On the field he is stone faced and working to get things done,” April Snell said. “You can’t smile on the field when you are busy making plays.
“Off the field, he’s very lovable. If you hear him laugh, he’s got one of the best laughs ever. He has a really good smile, too. I have a pretty good laugh, but not as good as Benny.
“He has never met a stranger. Anyone can walk up to him and say hello, and he will say hello back. He will sign anything you ask him to sign. He’s very appreciative of BBN (Big Blue Nation) and all the love he has received.”
She wasn’t surprised when her son said he believed he was the best running back in the Southeastern Conference even if Alabama’s Damien Harris is rated higher.
“Benny is very confident. You don’t want to take his confidence in football for cockiness,” Snell’s mother said. “He has earned what he has got through blood, sweat and tears. He just speaks the truth. I agree he’s the best at what he does. He will show again he is the best running back in the SEC.”
She’s just as confident about what lies ahead for the team this season and believes Kentucky is far better than most realize.
“We really have a lot of players. I love that a lot of teams are probably underestimating Kentucky,” April Snell said. “When we get out there and get going, you are going to know what we have. We are going to show it off this year. They have all worked so hard and I can’t wait to watch them all play and show what I know they can do.”