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Rams GM Les Snead : A True Auburn Man

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'A true Auburn man': LA Rams GM Les Snead

Jeff Shearer

AUBURN, Ala. – When Auburn's defensive coaches in 1993 wanted a player who would test the Tigers' defensive linemen in practice, they chose a walk-on tight end from Eufaula, Alabama.

Les Snead, at 6-0, 235 pounds, would line up face-to-face against future NFL pros like Gary  Walker and Willie Whitehead.

"We would open up our Tuesdays with the battle of the boards," recalled Snead, the Los Angeles Rams general manager. "Being a walk-on, I was limited, but scrappy, tough, all the intangible qualities.

"I would battle you, but I can remember sitting in many a class on Tuesday thinking, 'We're going to stretch, then we're going to blow the whistle, and then we're going to battle.' You just had that dread, like if I could just get through that 10 minutes, the rest of the week was going to be easy." 

Defensive coordinator Wayne Hall knew he could count on Snead to challenge the D-line.

"He probably never said a word to me as a player, but he would always call me down to do battle of the boards," Snead said. "In retrospect, there had to be some element of respect."

An all-state guard in high school, Snead signed with Troy but his allegiance to Auburn, an affinity born in the backyard playing football with friends, won out.

"If I'm going to do this, I want to pursue my dream and go to Auburn," Snead said. "It was basically a one-and-done gamble I made."

The gamble paid off with an 11-0 season. Snead's position coach, Rodney Garner, would put in No. 85 when Auburn had games in hand, a reward for the walk-on's diligence in practice.

"Great kid, great worker. He was undersized but just a scrappy guy who loved Auburn, loved football," recalled Garner, now Auburn's associate head coach. "A true Auburn man. 

"Didn't get to play much but was just so appreciative. Any time he ever got a chance to get in a game, his momma always found me after, hugged me and thanked me."

So impressed was Garner, he and Hall offered Snead a position as a graduate assistant, coordinating visits by NFL scouts and assisting with recruiting administration. 

"I wouldn't be where I am today without it," Snead said. "Rodney Garner was my biggest sponsor to hire me as a GA at Auburn. I wouldn't be the GM of the Rams without his impact on my life. So many years later, here we are."
 


A quarter-century later, Snead is back in the South for Sunday's Super Bowl in Atlanta, the architect of the Rams' roster.

The relationships he developed as a GA at Auburn helped Snead land NFL scouting jobs in Jacksonville and Atlanta before he became the Rams' GM in 2012.

"This is definitely the peak and pinnacle of what we do in the NFL," Snead said. "Jacked about winning the Halas Trophy (for being NFC champions) for sure, but what that led to is a chance to get an even bigger trophy, an even better banner, even better hat.


Snead says he still keeps close tabs on Auburn's football program, calling coach Gus Malzahn "an insightful sounding board in the business."

"Auburn is in excellent hands with people like [Malzahn and Garner] in the family," he said.

From his complimentary ticket allotment, Snead is reserving one for his high school coach, Wayne Woodham.

"I wouldn't be here without Rodney Garner, Wayne Hall, Terry Bowden," Snead said. "Wouldn't be here without Wayne Woodham."

When the Rams won the NFC Championship, Garner texted congratulations, continuing a relationship that began 26 years earlier when a determined walk-on battled elite linemen one-on-one.

"He's a good man. He's a man of character and he's accomplished a lot of great things," Garner said. "I'm just as proud of him as I am any first-round draft pick." 
 
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jeff_shearer
 
 

 

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Very nice article. Appreciate you posting it. Don't follow the Rams so I had no idea. Says a lot about Snead for sure but also Coach Garner then and now. Thanks @WFE12

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Great story.  Thanks for posting. As gr82be said, speaks a lot about CRG as well as the grit of Les Snead.  During and after college.

On 1/30/2019 at 1:13 AM, WFE12 said:

"He's a good man. He's a man of character and he's accomplished a lot of great things," Garner said. "I'm just as proud of him as I am any first-round draft pick." 

 

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