Throughout his collegiate career at Kentucky Benny Snell, Jr (#26) was not a major part of the passing game. He had 766 touches on offense in his 3 years and just 29 of those (4%) were through the air. Nineteen of those receptions came on the road or at a neutral site.
In his senior year he set career high numbers with 17 receptions and 105 yards. Those are relatively low numbers but that is more indicative of the offensive philosophy than Snell’s ability. Running backs in 2018 had a total of 25 receptions in Kentucky’s offense. Less than 13% of their completions went to the backs.
One positive from this is that Snell was used in pass protection often and has shown the ability to be effective there. One negative is because he was used so sparingly there isn’t a lot of film to study to see him as a receiver. His routes were limited to the short area including screens, flats, check downs and swing passes.
So usage was low and route tree was limited but what can he do when given the opportunity. Does he make the catch? Does he have the body control to adjust to the ball? How does he look making the catch? Does he looks comfortable or does he fight the ball?
Running backs coach Eddie Faulkner had similar questions but after his Pro Day came away confident not only about his hands but his ability to run the routes they will ask of him. Snell himself has acknowledged that he will have to show what he can do in camp.
I went back to find as many of his receptions as I could to give you a small glimpse into how he was used.
At Florida, he starts out in Pass Pro but with that handled he releases as a check down. He shows good body control to make the catch on a ball behind him. Slight bobble but he gathers before heading upfield.
At Missouri, here is a screen. Again good body control to adjust up and slightly behind. Soft hands to corral the pass. Good patience using his blockers downfield and is tough to take down.
At Tennessee, a flat route from the backfield. A does a nice job of tracking the ball over his shoulder with natural hands to make the catch look easy heading toward the sideline.
At Louisville, he receives a swing pass to the right. Soft hands on the move, gets some excellent blocking down field from his WR’s to get a big gain.
Vs Georgia Tech, late in the game on 3rd and long. A stab route in the middle, natural hands and able to gain 11 yards.
At Southern Mississippi, another 3rd and long play. Here he takes a shovel pass and works through traffic, using blocks to gain 13.
You can see from the clips how he was uses was pretty vanilla. Everything in the short area from the backfield. Nothing downfield, nothing while split wide. Pretty basic overall. By no means does that mean he can’t be used in other ways. He’ll be put in plenty of situations in training camp to determine where he can be used and be trusted within the passing game playbook.
The important things to garner from this are his hands, body control and after the catch. He looks very comfortable catching the ball. Soft, natural hands while stationary or on the move. His body control is good. I saw him adjust up, in front and behind him and showed no struggle. He tracks the ball well and transitions smoothly into a runner. After the catch, he’s not a dynamic runner but he’s a smart runner. He uses his blocks well and is a physical runner.
He’s already looking to improve as he mentioned in the third link above that is working on his open field speed. He’ll be fun to watch in training camp not just as a receiver but as a runner and a blocker as well.