Benny Snell isn’t one of those guys who was just happy to be drafted.
Snell, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie running back back, who last summer proclaimed that he was the best running back in the nation, watched as ten running backs were selected prior to the Steelers taking him with the 122nd overall pick.
Snell, who made a quick impression during Pittsburgh’s spring practices, was asked during an interview on 93.7 The Fan if he is using his draft status as motivation as he enters his rookie season.
“Definitely,” said Snell, who left the University of Kentucky as the school’s all-time career rushing leader. “I kinda find it funny how history repeats itself and people don’t see the true value of a player. Your rank and all these numbers, stars, whatever. It’s just amazing how it all work. I’m finally glad that I’m on a team with an organization that values me.”
Snell’s “history repeating itself” comment dates back his college recruiting experience. Despite growing up about 20 miles away from Ohio State, the Buckeye showed little interest in Snell, traveled to Lexington, Kentucky to continue his football career. Things undoubtedly worked out from there, as Snell rushed for 3,873 yards and 48 touchdowns in three seasons with the Wildcats. Snell was also part of the program’s resurgence, as Kentucky finished 12th in the nation following a 10-3 season in 2018. The high point came in Kentucky’s Citrus Bowl victory over Penn State, a game that saw Snell earn MVP honors after rushing for 144 yards and two scores in the Wildcats’ 27-24 victory.
Mark Stoops, Snell’s head coach at Kentucky, believes that Snell’s underdog mentality will continue to serve him well at the next level.
“Benny is going to be successful because that is just the way he is wired and he is going to work really hard,” Stoops said in the week leading up to the draft. “That is a great mentality to have because those yards are tough to come by in the SEC — and look at the success he has had — and they are hard to come by in the NFL. You need a player like that.”
While he didn’t like waiting until the fourth round to be drafted, Snell is happy about where he ended up. It’s fitting that Snell, a born underdog who relishes the opportunity to prove people wrong, is coming to a team that is also looking to silence their doubters.
“I definitely feel like I’m gonna be ready,” Snell said when looking ahead to his rookie season. “I felt like I was made to be a Steeler. It was just right. It feels right. It’s my type of football, and the fit was just perfect. I’ve been in a lot of situations at Kentucky — the NFL is completely different — where pressure on was on my shoulders, [but] I was still successful by the end of the day. “