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What Justin Rogers’ Commitment Means for Kentucky

Allen Trieu | 247 Sports

Allen Trieu | 247 Sports

Mark Stoops, a man who’s no stranger to recruiting wins at the University of Kentucky, just won his biggest battle to date. Justin Rogers has committed to UK over Georgia, Tennessee, Michigan, LSU and Alabama. The significance of Rogers’ decision is startling.

Kentucky’s Recruiting Success is Real

Rogers isn’t the first high school All-American to commit to Mark Stoops. He isn’t the first five-star player either. Landon Young fits each criteria. However, Young committed to UK as a sophomore. Other schools tried to recruit away the Lexington native, but the offensive tackle who eventually finished at No. 12 overall in the 2016 class could not be convinced to look elsewhere.

The Cats struck gold by evaluating in-state talent early in the process. The coaching staff has accomplished accomplished the same thing with the same method, but in a state that does not even share a border with the Commonwealth.

Kentucky’s Steve Clinkscale offered Rogers a scholarship as an eighth grader. Whether large or small, the impact was significant enough to prevent the top programs in the nation from pulling him away from Lexington. Now UK has a commitment from the top-ranked offensive guard and No. 10 player in America. It’s the first time a five-star player from another state has committed to UK. A powerful force that can play either side of the football, Rogers’ commitment has coerced other programs, fans and recruits to recognize that UK is a legitimate player in the recruiting world.

More Momentum

You can put a price tag on a football facilities upgrade but you cannot measure the value of momentum in football recruiting. Commitments come in bunches and this wave UK is riding has never been higher.

Four weeks ago UK hosted five players for official visits. Since the star-studded weekend, four have committed — four-star quarterback Beau Allen, four-star offensive tackle John Young, three-star cornerback Andru Phillips and now five-star offensive lineman Justin Rogers. Young got the dominos falling entering the weekend. Now there could be a few more to fall.

Deondre Buford, the only uncommitted player who officially visited on the same weekend, is a four-star Michigan prospect who could decide to join the party late. Another top Michigan prospect is Rogers’ Oak Park teammate, four-star cornerback Enzo Jennings. UK expects to host Jennings on an official visit this summer. When Kroger Field opens for camps, many of the commitments will be on campus to recruit their competition. If any of the summer official visits or camps produce the same fireworks as the infamous late-April event, Kentucky fans will be treated to quite a show.

Strength in the Trenches

People used to think to win at Kentucky, you needed a gimmick. Mark Stoops is winning at Kentucky with trench warfare. John Schlarman has accomplished it with a few recruiting coups — like Young, Drake Jackson and Darian Kinnard — and by developing under-recruited players into valuable assets. Now Vince Marrow has handed Schlarman (or possibly Derrick LeBlanc on the defensive line) the keys to an explosive Mack truck, one that will not be slowing down anytime soon. Of all the offensive line highlight reels, few produce more pancakes than Rogers.

By placing an emphasis in the trenches, Stoops and Marrow have created an identity that reflects their hard-nosed background. Like most linemen, it took some time to develop into on-field success. Now that the ball is rolling, the long-term picture for UK football is incredibly bright. The last piece of the puzzle is to surround the players in the trenches with athletes to run through and fill holes.

It’s Far from Finished…

If you think other schools will stop recruiting Rogers, you haven’t been keeping up with football recruiting. The ebbs and flows have jaded many fans. Their minds can’t be changed. While they sulk, the Cats are in the driver’s seat for one of the best players in America. Between now and December 18, Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow will do everything they can to make sure Rogers signs on the dotted line.

…but Wow

We live in a world where Kentucky has picked up a commitment from a top ten football player in America from the state of Michigan. Thinking back to the last recruiting class before Mark Stoops’ arrival, it’s incomparable, some may even say inconceivable.

Stoops turned relatively small, significant wins on the recruiting front into a ten-win season at Kentucky. Now he’s using a ten-win season to acquire top ten talent on the recruiting front. One can only wonder what new heights the program will reach with players like Justin Rogers on the roster.


Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

15 Comments for What Justin Rogers’ Commitment Means for Kentucky

  1. Not Dan Issel
    5:25 pm May 20, 2019 Permalink

    Holy Cow! This is big. Stoops and UK are killing it right now. Love it!

  2. blukat
    5:28 pm May 20, 2019 Permalink

    Very objective article from a Michigan site that admitted that the Wolverines will not be his final choice, but did state that there have been “rumblings” around Rogers’ recruitment that he could “decommit down the road”. I hope UK keeps him, but don’t be surprised.

    • runningunnin.454
      5:45 pm May 20, 2019 Permalink

      Another Michigan site said, “Justin Rogers picks Kentucky over Michigan, three OTHER sec powers.

    • Rumblings that a kid could decommit down the road on the day he’s committing? That’s rubbish. He may decommit but that’s like saying on a woman’s wedding day that there are whispers she could divorce down the road. Well no kidding he could decommit but there aren’t “rumblings”. There are just people with a vested interest throwing poop at the wall.

    • mashburnfan1
      5:54 pm May 20, 2019 Permalink

      All could decommit from any school but facts are that way more kids have signed with UK after making a commit than the few that have not. Like way more, percentages are not even close. Even if he does {I think he stays}, the statement made that UK can even be in the conversation for kids like this means we have won.

  3. Rod Crandler
    5:42 pm May 20, 2019 Permalink

    I’m one of those jaded fans. I wish I were not but it just keeps happening. I’ll be shocked if he actually ever wears a Kentucky uniform. Sure hope he does though…

    • Luether
      8:17 pm May 20, 2019 Permalink

      My sources say he will surpass Matt Elam’s accomplishments…

    • VMI1957
      12:15 pm May 21, 2019 Permalink

      Matt Elam couldn’t carry a jock strap – no wonder ‘Bama idn’t try that hard to keep him – they knew….

  4. Collie
    5:56 pm May 20, 2019 Permalink

    When can he sign?

  5. lribookend
    5:59 pm May 20, 2019 Permalink

    I agree with Rod Chandler. Until he signs an LOI, the other schools recruiting him (negatively) will be after him like piranha. UK’s past season is a very positive recruiting tool, as well as the number of UK players being drafted by the NFL teams. This should be a really interesing situation.

  6. Good Times
    6:08 pm May 20, 2019 Permalink

    Will be important we have another good season. Us regressing signifcantly would be one scenario that leads to a decommit.

  7. ky1988
    9:44 pm May 20, 2019 Permalink

    No chance he decommits his teammates play for UK . Then his loyalty to UK for been first school to offer him. It’s not like others who waited for new offfers. He had ever offer before he picked UK.

    • ClutchCargo
      12:41 am May 21, 2019 Permalink

      Agree. I think he made this decision for the right reasons. Family at the table, etc. Plus, linemen tend to be a lot more level headed than the so-called skill players.

  8. bige
    3:46 am May 21, 2019 Permalink

    Great win!

    Looks like his team didn’t pass much.

  9. BigBlueBudz62
    2:08 pm May 21, 2019 Permalink

    I will be saying good job stoops and company when he signs LoI, because we all know how this can go,but I’m excited and I hope he keeps his commitment, GO BIG BLUE