Benny Snell, Jr. is the latest Kentucky football standout who has become one of SEC's glamour boys.
After a record-setting performance last year in leading UK to a 7-6
Music City Bowl campaign last season, you'll find the junior running
back from Westerville, Ohio, appearing on regional covers for all
three 2018 college football yearbooks in Athlon Sports, Lindy's
Sports and Street & Smith's this summer. The popular preseason
yearbooks, loaded with colorful stories and photos, have been
released and they are available at newsstands or online.
Snell, who currently ranks No. 8 on the UK career rushing list
(2,424 yards), has also been named the preseason first team All-SEC
running back by all three publications. He is only the third player
in SEC history to gain at least 2,424 yards and at least 31 career
rushing TDs before entering his junior year, joining Herschel Walker
of Georgia and Leonard Fornette of LSU.
The other preseason first team All-SEC performers from Kentucky are
senior linebacker Josh Allen—who is also named second team All-
American by two yearbooks—and senior defensive back Mike Edwards.
Other Wildcats receiving second team or third team All-SEC preseason
honors include senior tight end C.J. Conrad, sophomore all-purpose
back Lynn Bowden, senior offensive lineman Bunchy Stallings and
senior defensive back Derrick Baity.
As for the SEC East Division race, Lindy's and Athlon like UK at No.
5, ahead of No. 6 Tennessee and No. 7 Vanderbilt, but Street &
Smith's drops Kentucky to No. 6 while placing Tennessee at No. 4 and
Missouri at No. 5.
By the way, both Lindy's and Athlon feature a Top 130 poll, ranking
all of the teams in NCAA Division I (Football Bowl Subdivision) with
the Wildcats at No. 45 by Lindy's and No. 55 by Athlon. Based on the
ratings, it would assume a 4-7 record for Kentucky against the FBS
teams this fall. With a probable victory over Murray State, which is
in Football Championship Subdivision, it would give UK a 5-7 overall
mark for the season.
But one yearbook points out coach Mark Stoops' Wildcats are in a
good place, but moving past 4-4 in the conference race would be
difficult. As you'll recall, Kentucky finished at 4-4 in SEC last
season, defeating South Carolina, Missouri, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
UK also was 4-4 in 2016.
Kentucky kicks off its 2018 campaign on Saturday, September 1
against Central Michigan. The 3:30 p.m. matchup at Kroger Field will
be televised by ESPNU.
And how will the Wildcats fare this fall? I'll have my annual UK
game-by-game prediction in late August.
Besides the college football yearbooks, there are plenty of newly-
published sports books that you'll enjoy reading this summer. Some of
the new books featured are:
"Tony Perez: From Cuba to Cooperstown" by John Erardi (Orange
Frazer, $24) is an interesting story about the baseball hall of famer
who played for the Cincinnati Reds. The author covered the Reds,
including Perez, for four decades.
"The Big 50: Cincinnati Reds" by Chad Dotson and Chris Garber
(Triumph Books, $16.95) has a little bit of everything about the Reds
history, ranging from the first pro baseball game to Todd Frazier's
2015 Home Run Derby. The 368-page paperback has colorful graphics and
it's filled with the team's interesting players and special moments
over the years.
"Davey Johnson: My Wild Ride in Baseball and Beyond" by Johnson with
Erik Sherman (Triumph Books, $26.95) is filled with fascinating
stories and reflections on his life, including his days with the
Cincinnati Reds when he was the manager during the early 1990s. By
the way, he was the one who replaced Tony Perez at Cincinnati.
"Try Not To Suck: The Exceptional, Extraordinary Baseball Life of
Joe Maddon" by Bill Chastain and Jesse Rogers (Triumph Books, $25.95)
explores the current Chicago Cubs manager's life and career. Maddon,
who once managed the Tampa Bay Rays, is one of more exciting
personalities that you'll find in major league baseball today.
"Warren Spahn: A Biography of the Legendary Lefty" by Lew Freedman
(Skyhorse Publishing, $24.99) tells the story of the winningest left-
handed pitcher in baseball history who was also a war hero, serving
in World War II. Interestingly, the hall of famer pitched two no-
hitters for the old Milwaukee Braves when he was 39 and 40 years old.
"Tiger Woods" by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian (Simon & Schuster,
$30) is a remarkable and revealing biography about one of the
greatest golfers in the world. The 491-page hardcover, which is
filled with juicy details, discusses the rise, fall and return of
Woods' life and career. The authors has offered a complete human
portrait of Woods, who is a very private person.
"We Changed the Game" by Robin Miller, Bob Netolicky and Richard
Tinkham (Hilton Publishing, $24.95) is an early history of the
Indiana Pacers, which arguably was considered the most successful ABA
franchise. Loaded with pictures, the hardcover provides fascinating
stories as told through the eyes of Netolicky, a former Pacers
standout, and other key figures from the Pacers.
"Here Comes the A-Train!" by Artis Gilmore with Mark Bruner and Reid
Griffith Fontaine (Acclaim Press, $21.95) is a story about Gilmore's
ABA/NBA career. As you probably know, the 7-2 hall of famer played
with the old Kentucky Colonels and sparked them to the 1975 ABA
championship. He discusses his life lessons that took him from his
rural Florida background to his pro career. The book also contains
many unpublished photos as well.
Jamie H. Vaught, a longtime columnist in Kentucky, is the author of
four books about UK basketball. He is the editor and founder of
KySportsStyle.com magazine and a professor at Southeast Kentucky
Community and Technical College in Middlesboro. You can follow him on
Twitter @KySportsStyle or reach him via e-mail at KySportsStyle@gmail.com.