By LARRY VAUGHT
Two days before Kentucky launched snellyeah.com to promote running back Benny Snell, UK linebacker Kash Daniel was already launching his own promotional campaign for Snell.
“Thank God for Benny Snell. I am so glad he is on our team,” Daniel said after Snell scored four touchdowns in UK’s 28-7 win over Mississippi State Saturday night. “That guy is unbelievable. He works so hard. That’s what people don’t understand. He didn’t get to where he is by just pure luck.
“This man has worked his tail off his whole life. He comes in day in, day out and works. He is one of the best running backs in the SEC but he always tries to get better. He is an awesome teammate. He never lets things get over his head. He always talks about the offensive line. He is a true teammate. I love Benny.”
Daniel, who came to UK in the same recruiting class three years ago, wasn’t finished.
“You look at what he has done the last two years. Back to back 1,000-yard rusher and well on this way to three. His yards after contact and way he runs hard,” Daniel said. “He should be (a Heisman Trophy candidate).”
Daniel said “ESPN and mainstream media” just don’t respect Kentucky and want to recognize what Snell has done.
Snell already has 2,964 career rushing yards and with 36 more against South Carolina Saturday night will become only the third Wildcat ever to reach 3,000 yards as he continues his pursuit of Sonny Collins’ all-time rushing record. He has 15 100-yard rushing games, just four away from setting another school record. His 39 total touchdowns have already broken the school record set by Randall Cobb.
He’s just 11 touchdowns away from breaking the SEC record for rushing touchdowns by a running back set by Herschel Walker.
“We had a good idea of who he was. To say that he would do all this, no, I didn’t know that. I just knew he was very mature. I knew he was strong, got tough yards, and he was disciplined for a young guy,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said Tuesday.
“He came in with an edge and an attitude about him from the very beginning and he’s been consistent all the way through. That doesn’t surprise me one bit. Just his approach to the game and his desire to play well and his desire to play good for his team, that has been the same. We knew what we were getting in that. As far as the production, I don’t think you could ever foresee that.”
Kentucky has won 18 of 28 games Snell has played in and advanced to back-to-back bowl games. He has rushed for 540 yards and seven touchdowns — both tops in the SEC — in four games. His 138.8 all-purpose yards per game also leads the SEC.
Even more impressive is how dominating he has been in UK’s wins at Florida and over Mississippi State. He rushed 52 times for 340 yards and four touchdowns in those games.
Stoops is normally not one to single out particular players for extra praise. However, he had no problem with UK deciding to do something extra to promote Snell.
“I know (linebacker) Josh (Allen) and I know Benny. I know the type of players they are and the maturity that they have, and I know what’s important to them. Again, with the success of the team, the individual accolades will come. I don’t anticipate anything different from those guys in their approach,” Stoops said.
I would not either.