Every so often, Butler University football player Dakota Sneed attempts to explain to teammates where his hometown is.
Two words usually do the job.
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“Very few know where Edinburgh is,” said Sneed, a 6-foot-3, 280-pound redshirt freshman who earned 11 varsity letters as a three-sport standout at Edinburgh Community High School.
“But almost all the Indiana kids know where the outlet mall is.”
Sneed redshirted during Butler’s 4-7 season a year ago. Now eligible, he’s seen action in the Bulldogs’ first two games this season — a 52-17 loss at Indiana State and Saturday’s home-opener against Franklin College.
Though not a starter, Sneed’s versatility makes him a trusted second-string player at three positions — center (which he played in high school) and either left or right guard.
“Right now I’m a backup. My role is to basically be ready when one of the starters gets hurt or needs a breather,” said Sneed, a two-way player in high school who produced 84 tackles as one of the Lancers’ defensive ends as a senior.
“Learning (to play guard) hasn’t been too difficult,” he said. “Playing the interior line, you have almost the same role and assignments. The only thing I really had to work on was going against bigger and faster and better opponents.”
It’s here a redshirt season paid dividends.
Sneed arrived on campus a 260-pounder accustomed to lining up across the line of scrimmage from small-school opponents such as Milan, Monroe Central and Tindley.
Difficult as it may have been not to have played on Saturday afternoons with his Bulldogs’ teammates, Sneed acknowledges the benefits of having time to adjust to what were new surroundings, classes and way of life. An honors student in high school (he was class valedictorian, a National Football Foundation Scholar and a 2013 Indianapolis Colts Academic All-Star), he is physically stronger and has a firmer command of the Bulldogs’ system.
“It was definitely beneficial to me to get some extra lifts in, and the extra practice reps on the scout team. Overall, just a good developmental year to focus on technique,” said Sneed, whose final high school game was at the IFCA North-South All-Star Game shortly after graduating.
“It (redshirt season) probably helped more for me learning the system, because coming into camp as a freshman, you’re getting thrown information left and right about new plays and formations,” Sneed said. “And obviously getting stronger and faster is a huge goal.”
Sneed bench-presses as much as 340 pounds (60 more than his senior season at Edinburgh) and is much stronger in the lower body, as well.
Butler coaches anticipate Sneed’s role within the offense expanding as time goes on.
“Dakota is a program guy. He does things the right way and is a student of the game,” Bulldogs assistant head coach Joe Cheshire said. “Last season, he bounced back and forth between the travel squad and scout team, and was always prepared.
“That’s a great example of how hard-working he is. Dakota will be a good player for us over the long-term.”
Slightly less than 14 months had passed from the time Sneed took part in the North-South Game to Butler’s loss at ISU on Sept. 5.
Once he checked into the game, however, years of football instinct took over.
“I was so nervous, but after I was told I was going to go in, all that kind of stuff went away,” he said. “I got in, I did well, went with the flow and tried to have fun.
“Once you get between the lines it’s about playing hard and being aggressive.”
THE SNEED FILE
Name: Dakota Sneed
Born: Columbus, IN
Family: Parents, Gary and Danielle
High school: Edinburgh H.S. – 2014
Favorite TV show: “How I Met Your Mother”
Favorite food: Chicken
Favorite movie: “Anchorman”
Favorite athlete: Peyton Manning
Favorite team: Indianapolis Colts