Take-charge senior Jacob Snell has Benet off to 6-1 start

Rangy and quick at 6-4 and 240 pounds, Jacob Snell is a big reason the Redwings have clinched their eighth straight IHSA playoff berth.

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Benet’s Jacob Snell.

Benet’s Jacob Snell.

Kevin Tanak/For the Sun-Times

Over the summer, Jacob Snell and some of his Benet football buddies tried out a different sport.

Their fishing trips were relaxing, Snell said. But he’s not sure it’s going to be anything more than a diversion.

“Some days, I’m not very patient,” Snell said.

No, Snell is usually in a hurry, especially when he’s lining up at defensive end and trying to create havoc in opponents’ backfields.

Rangy and quick at 6-4 and 240 pounds, the senior is a big reason the Redwings (6-1) have clinched their eighth straight IHSA playoff berth.

What makes Snell special?

“First and foremost is his physical stature,” Benet coach Pat New said. “He’s got long arms and he’s very athletic for his size. And then he really worked extremely hard in the offseason and developed a lot of explosiveness.”

Recruiters took notice, with Snell receiving eight offers. In June, he committed to Miami of Ohio over such schools as Northern Illinois and Wyoming.

It wasn’t a snap decision.

“I’ve been up there multiple times,” Snell said. “I think first time was my sophomore year. Every time I was there I just loved it more and more. I love all the coaches and got to meet all the players and it just felt like home.”

Benet’s Jacob Snell at practice.

Benet’s Jacob Snell at practice.

Kevin Tanaka/For the Sun-Times

New expects Snell to fit in well at the Mid-American Conference school.

“From a social and academic standpoint, I think it’s great,” New said. “I’ve always said Miami is kind of an extension of Benet; we’ve had a lot of kids go there.”

There’s also a comfort factor with RedHawks coach Chuck Martin, a Rich East and Millikin product who was formerly Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator.

“Coach Martin does a great job and I know him pretty well,” New said.

New felt confident in recommending Snell to Martin, and not just for what he’s done since being promoted to the varsity and earning a starting job as a sophomore.

Snell has significant upside between his frame and the fact that he’s a young senior, just having turned 17 in August.

Plus there’s what he does off the field.

“In the offseason, on day one, he took guys and aside and they did extra work in the weight room,” New said. “He led those sessions.”

It’s second nature for Snell, who started playing football as a 6-year-old and has seen time at offensive guard and fullback as well as defensive end. He also played baseball and basketball earlier in his high school career, and plans to return to the latter sport this winter after taking a season off.

But his focus now is just on football and the Redwings’ back-loaded schedule. Benet lost to Loyola on Saturday and has Nazareth at home and St. Rita on the road to wrap up the season.

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