Former Westerville Central High School football standout Benny Snell is closing in on a longtime dream.

Snell, a junior running back at Kentucky, declared for the NFL draft Dec. 14.

“There comes a time where you have to leave home to build a life of your own,” Snell said in a video on his Twitter page. “That’s what I’m about to do. I have decided to enter the NFL draft and pursue a dream I’ve had as long as I can remember.”

Despite his decision, Snell also said he will play in the Citrus Bowl. Kentucky is 9-3 and faces Penn State on Jan. 1 in Orlando, Florida.

“I have unfinished business,” Snell said in the video. “Whatever I start, I make sure I finish.”

Snell finished second in the Southeastern Conference this season with 1,305 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns.

He has established several school records during his three-year career. He holds the season record for rushing touchdowns (19) as well as the career records for 100-yard rushing games (18), rushing touchdowns (46) and total touchdowns (46). He ranks third all-time in the SEC in rushing touchdowns.

Snell needs 107 yards rushing in the Citrus Bowl to surpass all-time Kentucky leader Sonny Collins (3,835 from 1972-75).

As a senior at Central, Snell was named first-team all-state and district Offensive Player of the Year in Division I. He rushed for 1,826 yards and 26 touchdowns on 247 carries as the Warhawks made the playoffs and finished 10-2.

“Benny was full go all of the time,” said coach Brent Morrison, who was offensive coordinator while Snell was at Central. “It didn’t matter if it was the weight room, film, practice or a game, he was always full throttle. It frustrated all of us that colleges weren’t knocking down the door for him, but Kentucky has been the perfect fit. They embraced Benny’s personality and let him have fun while playing football.

“The Westerville Central community is extremely proud of his accomplishments and is excited to see what the future holds for him.”

Snell would join another Central alumnus in the NFL. Nick Vannett, a 2011 graduate, is in his third season as a tight end for Seattle.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank