Bo Snelson (Higgins Photography)
Pasadena, Texas (Memorial high school) tailback Bo Snelson rushed for over 4,000 yards and 57 touchdowns during his last two seasons of high school ball. Snelson will wear the Navy Blue and Gold of the Midshipmen during the 2009 football season. Look inside to find out the story of how this stellar player made it from Texas to Annapolis.
Despite remarkable statistics and a stellar performance academically, none of the major Football Bowl Subdivision powers were interested in the services of 5-foot-8, Bo Snelson. Texas Tech invited Snelson as a “preferred walk-on” and a few Ivy League schools offered scholarships but Snelson wanted to play division I football while on scholarship.
Bo’s father, John, who also happened to be his football coach, knew that his son playing division I football would be tough to make a reality but he was willing to help his son achieve his goal , “I was just very honest with him. I said, ‘well son, you are not ever going to be the biggest and you are probably not going to be the fastest so you are going to be the toughest…’”
Coach Snelson pushed his son hard to help him achieve his goals, “I was very hard on him both physically and discipline wise.” The hard work paid off though; by his senior year in high school Bo could handle 300 pounds in both the bench press and power clean.
Bo was familiar with the service academies. His father had played football at Air Force for a year and Bo followed the Falcons closely during his younger years, however, something happened to attract him to a different academy. Seems that while attending a concert, Bo happened upon a U.S. Marine Corps recruiting display, which featured a pull-up bar. The recruiter invited Bo to show his stuff on the bar and the youngster happily complied, impressing the recruiter with his strength. Bo signed up for the Marine recruiter’s mailing list and developed a desire to be a Marine.
One day at home, Bo walked into the living room and asked this father, “Dad, what service academy do you have to go into to get into the Marines?” Dad informed him that that would be the U.S. Naval Academy. Bo requested that his father contact the Naval Academy on his behalf and express his interest in being a Midshipman, which dad did. A short time later Navy assistant coach Danny O'Rourke showed up in Pasadena to pick up a highlight tape.
The Navy staff liked what they saw and were glad to offer Bo a scholarship, however, they weren’t pushy. “They told him they didn’t expect him to commit right now. They wanted him to just be sure about everything and experience the recruiting process and that’s pretty much what we did,” said the elder Snelson.
Snelson rushed for over 4,000 yards and 50 touchdowns during his career in Pasadena.
(Photo by Shawn Watts)
Bo, who says that Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo’s coaching style is similar to that of his dad’s, attended a seminar last summer and then visited Navy in February. Being from Texas he loved the view of water near the campus. Bo also saw a lot of players like himself, undersized but with great football IQ and big hearts. Most of all, he saw players like himself who believed they could beat the big schools that had turned their backs on them. “Knowing that I could go there and make a difference and that a bunch of guys who were passed up for bigger spots at bigger universities, they were afraid to take a chance on us and they wanted us to walk on. We can go up and beat those guys!” said Bo, who committed in February.
As a junior in 2007 and in a tight game against Brazoswood, Bo, playing defense, made an error on a read, which allowed the opposition to score a touchdown. Down but not out, Bo more than made up for his mistake on offense. In the fourth quarter Snelson and his teammates drove down the field and put Pasadena in scoring position. “We lined up and they knew it was coming and we knew it was coming,” said Bo. Snelson took the handoff and raced towards the line but ran into a pile of players. Then an amazing thing happened. Snelson actually made his way through the pile and scored a touchdown. “If you watch the film it’s just me rushing into a chaos of bodies and then I kind of slip out the back end and score. That’s what put us up and that’s what closed the game.” Memorial went on to win, 28-17, over Brazoswood.
In the fall Snelson will take his act to Annapolis where he will compete for playing time as slot back. Snelson is eager to play division I football and enthusiastic about getting a shot at some of the powerhouses that snubbed him, “I want to be there when we walk into the OSU at Ohio State, I want to be there at Notre Dame and I want to be there at Hawaii. Those are the guys that everybody is after. If we can beat those guys, sooner or later they are going to have to give us some acknowledgment.”
While football is important in Bo’s life he is excited about the chance to serve his country. “Being a Midshipman and Navy or Marine officer means dedicating your life to something bigger than yourself, carrying on the tradition and high standards that the many who came before him set, and serving and protecting his family and country,” said Snelson who reports to Annapolis later this summer. It appears that Navy has gained a fine football player and America a solid future military officer.
Bo Snelson races for the end zone. (Photo by Shawn Watts)