Y’all ever heard of Snell Yeah?
Of course you have … you understand greatness, that’s why you’re reading this article.
But I guess just for the couple of you who still aren’t down with the hottest slogan sweeping the country, and soon the entire world, let me educate you a little bit.
So “Snell Yeah” started up my freshman year at Kentucky. We’re playing against some team, and I ran in like my fourth touchdown and then I look up in the crowd and see someone holding up a glorious sign with just those two words.
It was the first time I’d ever seen anyone bring a sign with my name on it to a game, and it had me so amped. I loved it. Immediately. In fact, I loved it so much that I ended up doing this after the season was over:
Courtesy of Benny Snell Jr.
Yes, that’s a tattoo.
A real one.
And yes, it is across my entire stomach.
Also, I know what you’re thinking and, yes … it hurt like HELL!
Like it hurt as bad as it looks like it hurt. Probably worse.
Actually … definitely worse. It’s all good, though.
And no, I didn’t do it to look tough, but I will tell you this: I ain’t scared of any defensive lineman tackling me after sitting in a chair for hours and hours to get that ink.
It’s just like … no fear. At all.
And now that I think about it, that’s kind of how our whole team has been approaching our games this season. All of us. Even the guys without massive tats on their stomachs.
We’re not scared of nobody.
Not South Carolina. Not Missouri. For sure not Florida.
Do we respect all those teams? Yeah. We respect every team we play. That’s how we’re coached. That’s how I was raised. Absolutely.
But, scared? Afraid?
That’s not in the makeup of this team. In fact, if anything, what we have is the opposite of fear.
Everyone knows I play with a chip on my shoulder. Why? Because most of the traditional powerhouse schools didn’t recruit me. Or if they did, it was kind of just like a little look or whatever. Maybe I got sent some form letter one time and then nada.
I wasn’t good enough for them.
So now it’s like: Oh yeah? Not interested in me? I’m not quick enough? Don’t have enough stars next to my name to be worth your time? Well here … enjoy this three-star stiff-arm to your damn chest.
And now everyone on this team is playing with a massive chip on their shoulders! We work our butts off so that, come game day, we can show the entire college football universe that we’re so much better than y’all thought. No one expected much from us. No one thought we’d be where we are now.
And I guess, in a way, maybe the doubters were kind of right. We aren’t a good team.
This is actually a great team.
Can I get a Snell Yeah?!?!
Mark Humphrey/AP Photo
Just like a few others on this team, I was largely overlooked coming out of high school. And I happen to come from Columbus, Ohio — the same Columbus that’s home to Ohio State University.
As a kid, I dreamed of suiting up for my hometown team. In pee-wee league, I was on a team called the Buckeyes and wore number 10. I’d run over kids and put up like 250 yards on the ground every game, and all the parents would call me Big 10. It really did seem like destiny at that point. I loved Ohio State.
But, you know, Ohio State didn’t love me back.
Same for Penn State and Michigan and Florida and … well, you get the picture.
And I’ll be honest, that pissed me off. I think part of me will always be pissed off about it. But you know what? Now that it’s in the past, and I have a little more clarity, I’m actually grateful those places didn’t give me the time of day.
I mean, who knows what my situation would be had Ohio State shown real interest in me and I ended up on that team. Maybe I somehow work my way up to become the starter or whatever and it’s cool.
That would be fun. I’m not doubting that. But I guess I’m just trying to say that I feel like what I’m experiencing right now at Kentucky is even more fun than that.
To be able to bond with a group of guys and work to take a team that no one in college football has talked much about recently, and turn around its fortunes to the point where people are now labeling us as a team to look out for in the future?
That’s something different.
That’s special. That’s creating a legacy right there. And it’s paving the way for future Wildcats.
That’s real impact. And it’s something that I couldn’t be more proud of.
I mean … I’m honestly getting choked up right now because I love this team and this school so much.
This place is my home now. And things just keep getting better and better.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
On that note, I got a quick story for ya….
It’s the second game of the year, and we just got finished beating Florida by double digits in the Swamp.
The team is lit, and everyone’s jumping around and shouting in the locker room and just, you know, feeling good. Huge win. In conference. On the road. The whole thing. We’re just kind of soaking it all in.
Then for whatever reason, in the middle of all that, I’m like, I wonder what it’s like back at school right now?
So I jump on Twitter and start looking around and it’s….
Just totally insane.
The campus is going nuts. Straight up.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was just tons of kids in the middle of State Street. Everyone’s jumping and dancing and yelling.
All for … a football win.
Bryan Woolston/AP Photo
Now, look, for real … as a player who loves it when people get fired up for our team, that was pretty damn cool.
To see that level of emotion and excitement on our campus as a result of something football did? It blew me away. And it’s something we’re looking to make sure we see a lot more of going forward.
Beyond that, though, in terms of more long-term stuff, we really are looking to change the game here at Kentucky. That’s a big part of what this football team is trying to do.
Everyone knows our men’s basketball team can ball out. I mean, our teams are no joke. You head over to Rupp and it’s like seeing an NBA team play. Those guys do their thing like no one else in college hoops, and I love every one of them. I hang out with those dudes on a daily basis. They’re all great people. And I always ride for Coach Cal’s squads no matter what. So this isn’t about basketball vs. football at all.
It’s about the football team rising up to that same level of consistent excellence.
I want Kentucky to be known as a basketball Mecca and a football powerhouse.
I mean, this is why I came to Kentucky!I want Kentucky to be known as a basketball Mecca and a football powerhouse.
And that’s where our football program is headed right now, too. Believe me.
We’re building something special here, and I can truly see this thing bubbling up over the next few years to the point where everyone will look up at one point and be like, Hmm, wow, Kentucky football has it going on right now. When did that happen? Where did that come from?
So, you know, if you find yourself saying that at some point down the line, just please remember back to this article … and me telling you that this, right now, what you’re seeing on the field from us this season, is where it all started. This, I’m telling you, is where that came from.
And we’re not surprised at how things have gone, either. All the guys on the team, we knew we were capable of this, and we all work super hard. So we’re not shocked to be winning games. But I gotta be honest: It really does feel good. And it’s been cool to see how people around the country have been taking notice. People see that we’ve begun to turn this program around and that, under Coach Stoops’ leadership, we’re a team on the rise.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
It’s definitely been an incredible season so far — some of the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. I mean, come on … did you see the end of that Missouri game?
Eighty-one yards in 84 seconds? An untimed down? That perfect play to end the game? Our coach getting pressed against the ceiling while he’s crowd surfing in the locker room?
Kentucky didn’t do a lot of locker-room celebrations in the past. But now that we do … we celebrate better than anybody, man.
So, yeah, that’s all to say that this has been crazy fun. But that doesn’t mean we’re satisfied with what we’ve accomplished to this point. Not even close.
This next game? I’m not gonna lie. It’s big for us. Really big.
I won’t make any predictions or promises. That’s not what I’m about. But here’s what I can tell you about what will go down in Lexington on Saturday.
What you’re going to see out there on the field against Georgia is a true brotherhood, giving it all we got and laying it out on the field.
Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire
I hope y’all come out to watch us this weekend. And, hey, if you happen to have a spare moment before then, and you’re looking for a way to pass the time, I recommend putting together a sign or two for the game.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Just grab some poster board and a few Sharpies. If you’ve got glitter or some of that sparkly glue, I guess throw some of that on there, too. But it’s not necessary. All you really need to make it pop are two words written in big, bold, all-cap letters:
Who knows, if enough people read this, maybe we can have thousands of those signs up in the stands during the Georgia game. Beyond that….
It’s up to us to get the job done.