Penn Hills standouts Snell, Bennett make college choices

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Thursday, February 13, 2020 | 5:28 PM


Before National Signing Day, the Penn Hills football program already knew two players had made their college commitments.

By the end of the day, another two players signed their letters of intent to continue their football careers. Safety Aakeem Snell signed with Lackawanna College and cornerback Dylan Bennett signed with Cal (Pa).

The pair joined athlete Tony Grimes (Akron) and defensive tackle Derrell Porter (Dartmouth), who made verbal commitments last month.

Snell wasn’t pleased with the offers he received and decided to bet on himself as he looks to get better offers after playing at the junior college level next year.

“A lot of the other places filled up toward the end of the recruitment process,” he said. “I was trying to set up (official visits), but other people committed.”

“There is a history of WPIAL kids going to Lackawanna and continuing their college careers at other places. I felt like that was the best thing for me to do,” Snell added.

Snell, who is 6-foot-3 195 pounds, will look to follow in the footsteps of WPIAL alums Jaquan Brisker (Penn State) and Robert Kennedy (East Carolina), who went to NCAA FBS schools after playing at Lackawanna. Playing at Penn State is a dream of Snell’s.

Last season, Snell and Bennett both received Western Pennsylvania Big 56 first-team honors at defensive back.

Snell, who has been playing football since the fourth grade, was tied for second on the Indians (10-2, 7-0) with three interceptions, while finishing with 28 tackles in his senior season. Snell finished with four pass break-ups and one fumble recovery.

Heading into the season, Snell was receiving interest from Toledo, Ohio, Ball State, Central Michigan, Robert Morris and Duquesne.

“The Juco process itself will make me hungrier and work harder than everybody else just to prove a point to everybody,” Snell said. “I feel like God has a plan for everybody, so this was supposed to happen.”

Snell will look to work on his physicality while at Lackawanna.

Bennett, who is 5-9 175 pounds, has a chip on his shoulder since an untimely ankle occurred during his junior season and hindered his recruitment process. He is grateful for the chance to play for Cal (Pa.).

“It means everything since I’ve been playing the game since I was 6 years old,” Bennett said. “To keep playing the game for another four years means a lot and to get me closer to my dream of playing one day in the NFL.”

Bennett was mulling offers from Fairmont State and Lock Haven before committing to the Vulcans after visiting in late January. During his senior season, Bennett finished with 39 tackles and five pass break-ups.

During his recruitment process, Bennett could lean on Penn Hills defensive coordinator Brian Tarrant, who’s a Vulcan alum.

“When you get there, you feel like you know everybody. It’s more family based and you’re more comfortable,” Bennett said. “He knows they are all good people, and they’re not going to play any games. They come and compete.”

Bennett believes Cal (Pa.) is the best opportunity for him to compete at the NCAA Division II level in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.

The three-sport athlete who also plays basketball and runs track for the Indians is drawn to football’s physicality and looks to get playing time as soon as possible.

“I’m more of an aggressive type of person,” he said. “It’s easier for me to excel in football, and I like getting my hands on people and getting my hands dirty.”

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