Penn Hills’ Snell benefits from offseason development

Friday, July 19, 2019 | 4:51 PM

The Tribune-Review and the TribLive High School Sports Network are profiling each member of the 25-player Trib HSSN Preseason Football All-Star team. The players will be recognized July 23 during a HSSN Media Day live broadcast at Kennywood Park.

Trips to camps at Pitt and Penn State last month were eye openers for Penn Hills senior wide receiver and safety Aakeem Snell.

“Going to both of those camps gave me a chance to see where I stand in my offseason development and also in the recruiting process,” said Snell, who achieved a goal of a 4.6 40-yard dash at both camps.

“It showed me that I needed to work a little bit harder and what I need to do to be a better player.”

Snell said instruction from defensive coaches at both camps as well as ongoing work with former Woodland Hills, Notre Dame and NFL defensive back standout Darrin Walls has helped his technique as a defender in the secondary.

“It’s been a more productive summer than any other in my high school career,” Snell said. “I’ve been to more camps this year than last year. Overall, I feel I’ve been working harder because I know how big this season is for me.”

Snell hopes to increase his role for a Penn Hills team that has its sights set on repeating as WPIAL and PIAA champions in Class 5A.

“The coaches have told us to keep our heads down and work,” he said. “We have (the goal of repeating) in the back of our minds. We lost some players, but the ones about to come in were there for the season last year and saw everything that went on. I think everyone is going to be prepared to step in and play like they should.”

Snell said his offseason productivity has helped on both sides of the ball, from being a better blocker and pass-catching threat in the Penn Hills offense to being an improved tackler and a defensive back that no one wants to test.

Last season, Snell hauled in a pair of touchdowns in the Indians passing game. On defense, he picked off three passes and broke up numerous others.

For his defensive efforts, he garnered Class 5A Northern Conference honorable mention recognition.

Snell has several Division I offers under his belt, including ones from Mid-American Conference schools Toledo, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo and Central Michigan.

His mission is to add to that list. He’s on Pitt and Penn State’s radar, but he hasn’t picked up an offer yet from either.

Snell said he sees many of the area’s top players in the Class of 2020 making verbal commitments, but he wants to let the process play out and make his decision when the time is right. He said if that means after the season, so be it.

“I want to talk with my family and others to make sure everything is in place before I make my decision,” Snell said. “I don’t want to rush anything. I want everything to fall into place. It’s motivation for me to get to the point where I can commit to the school that I want. It’s one of the biggest decisions I can make.”

Aakeem Snell file

School: Penn Hills

Class: Senior

Ht/wt: 6-3/185

Positions: WR/S

Stars: Two

Division I offers: Toledo, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Ohio,

2018 statistics: 4 catches, 67 yards, 2 TDs; 42 tackles, 3 interceptions

Trib HSSN Preseason All-Stars

A.J. Beatty, Central Catholic

Fintan Brose, Hempfield

Tui Brown, Gateway

Michael Carmody, Mars

Josh Casilli, Peters Township

Johnny Crise, Highlands

Derrick Davis, Gateway

Daniel Deabner, Thomas Jefferson

Deamontae Diggs, McKeesport

Dorien Ford, Baldwin

Aaron Gunn, Union

Dayon Hayes, Westinghouse

Nahki Johnson, West Mifflin

Josh Kaltenberger, Seneca Valley

Caleb Lisbon, Penn-Trafford

Jake Lugg, North Allegheny

Luke Meckler, Pine-Richland

George Padezanin, Montour

Joshua Rawlings, Woodland Hills

Jack Salopek, Norwin

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at or via Twitter .


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