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'He has passion for the game'

Why you should be excited about fourth-round pick Benny Snell Jr.:

He’s productive: Snell, a 5-foot-10, 224-pound running back, rushed for a program-record 3,873 yards and a program-record 48 touchdowns in three seasons at Kentucky.

He’s a closer: Snell carried eight consecutive times for 22 yards and two first downs on a series that began with 4:12 remaining and Kentucky leading Penn State by three points in the Citrus Bowl. The Wildcats eventually punted and the Nittany Lions took over with one second left in regulation.

NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah called Snell a “four-minute back.”

He’s decorated: Snell was a team captain, a first-team All-SEC pick and a second-team All-American selection in 2018.

He’s in great company: Snell and Herschel Walker are the only players in SEC history to rush for at least 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns in their first three seasons.

He’s all in: “In today's college environment, a lot of these kids are skipping their bowl games as they head into their pro careers,” General Manager Kevin Colbert pointed out. “That's a choice that they make. But when a player like Benny Snell ends up playing for his team in his bowl game, we really like to acknowledge that and give him credit for putting his team and that win over his own priorities.” 

Added running backs coach Eddie Faulkner: “Very evident when you sit down with this young man how much he has passion for the game, how much he loves it, how he loves being around it. We were very interested in finding someone who had a passion and just loves football, and that's Benny Snell. As soon as you turn on his tape, and watch how he plays the game, he mirrors that same amount of passion. He plays physical, plays hard, and quite honestly represents the Steelers’ brand.”

He helped elevate the program at Kentucky: Snell, in the estimation of draft analyst Dane Brugler of The Athletic, was “the workhorse of the Wildcats’ offense and a substantial reason for the program’s 10-win season in 2018, the first double-digit win season for Kentucky since 1977.” Head coach Mike Tomlin said Snell “was really a central figure in the culture change in terms of what went on at Kentucky, competing and winning and what he was able to do down there.”

He’s passing-game capable: Snell only had 29 receptions for 216 yards in three seasons at Kentucky, but Faulkner saw what he needed to see from Snell leading up to the draft in terms of his ability to contribute in the passing game.

“I had those same question marks, and things that I would like to see,” Faulkner said. “But what you do see him do on tape is play the Wildcat (offense). There's a lot to being a running back and non-quarterback, and catching a snap and then being able to get your eyes on your reads as a running back, and he's able to do that. That takes a lot of hand-eye coordination.

“When we worked him on the Pro Day, he caught every ball, caught it with his hands, was natural, was able to get in and out of his breaks, and run the routes we would want him to run. It was good to see. He can do all of those things.”

He has NFL bloodlines: Snell’s great uncle is Matt Snell, a running back who helped Joe Namath and the Jets shock the world by beating the Colts in Super Bowl III.

View photos of the Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 fourth round pick, RB, Benny Snell Jr.

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