Sneed enrolled early at Rutgers, still committed after an offseason coaching change to Chris Ash, eager for early playing time as a confident running back. He quickly learned how much more it takes at the Big Ten level.
“In our running back room, Justin Goodwin is the perfect example,” Sneed said. “No matter what obstacles, he comes out and he's the same every day. When he comes out here, he goes to work. It's our job as the new class, the first class with coach Ash to kind of set the foundation. The foundation has been made and we're going to build on that with the new recruits that are coming in.”
Goodwin's attitude and work ethic was a quick wake-up call for Sneed. Sneed earned the respect of his coaches early, but it translated only to minimal playing time as a true freshman.
Primarily a special teams player, Sneed ran 16 times for 55 yards, caught one pass and returned four kicks.
Does he regret a lack of red-shirt? Nope.
“I'm thankful that I was able to get the reps that I was able to get, and actually able to get some real game-time reps to kind of help me get past those freshman flutters that you'll have,” Sneed said. “If I was to red-shirt this year, I think I would still have some of those freshman flutters, nerves for next year. Now that I've actually been out there and able to play in pretty much every game, I was able to go against some great defenses this year.”
Sneed projects as a more significant contributor at running back in his sophomore season. It starts in the film room, where Sneed needs to evolve as a tailback.
“You would think as a running back that it's a lot on reaction but really, it's anticipation,” Sneed said. “If you really learn what the defense is trying to do, you can just by looking at their setup before the play even starts, you can kind of have an idea.”
Sneed often discussed the speed of the game as a freshman in the Big Ten. He feels more comfortable after a year but admits plenty of work to do.
“It's not perfect yet but I definitely can see it a lot better than I did in the beginning of the season,” Sneed said. “In the beginning of the season, everything was just moving so fast. It's just a bunch of moving parts. Now it's starting to slow down and you actually can anticipate where the open hole is going to be. I feel like it can only get better throughout the offseason and the next season to come.
“I think I'm strong enough to be able to be productive. I think I have the speed to be productive. Physically, of course the offseason is definitely good because I'm going to be able to enhance all of those facets, but it's confidence that you have. When you step on the field, it's almost like you're willing plays to be made. Instead of going out and hoping, … when you have that confidence on the field, you know.”