There are lofty expectations for Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Benny Snell Jr. Are these expectations unfair for a player who hasn’t even run a play in a padded practice in the National Football League? Probably, but Snell could make up a trio of running backs for the black-and-gold which could be not only formidable, but extremely versatile.
Snell’s running style not only earned him some prestigious records at the University of Kentucky, but could be a dramatic change of pace for James Conner and Jaylen Samuels. Either way, as Snell embarks on his rookie season he finally able to realize he is living a dream.
“I finally get to live my dream,” Snell told Hunter Homistek of DKPittsburgh Sports during Steelers minicamp at the Rooney Complex. “That’s how I think about it. It’s a full-time job and everything counts, when it comes to the reps, the quality reps, the film, the relationship with your teammates — everything counts. I always keep that in the back of my mind and I attack every day.”
Living the dream is one thing, but realizing the differences between the college and pro game is an entirely different beast. For Snell, he is already seeing the NFL game slow down, and this is a very good thing heading into his first training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA.
“It’s definitely slowing down,” Snell said. “I’m starting to pick up on a lot of little things that matter. Formations are starting to hit and I’m starting to move fast. I’m starting to react like I’m supposed to be. It’s all coming along. It just takes time.”
This progression will likely slow down once Snell reports to camp and the pads start popping, but Snell is leaning on the veterans to help him continue the acclimation process.
“Whether I do a good thing or whether I mess up on a play, they’re always right there giving me feedback,” Snell was saying of the veterans’ influence. “I’m always learning from them, each day, each rep, every film session with the coaches. And just getting to be around them and getting to learn off-the-field things with them as well, [it’s huge]. They’ve been mentors. I look at them as my big brothers.”
Snell will have every opportunity to prove himself once training camp rolls around. Whether it be the backs-on-backers drill, regular padded practice or his first NFL preseason game, when No. 24 touches the football fans will be looking for fireworks.
Hopefully he lives up to the hype.