By LARRY VAUGHT
The recruitment of five-star Michigan star Justin Rogers is an important one for Kentucky and maybe even a historic one for coach Mark Stoops if he can land Rogers
Kentucky was the first school to offer Rogers a scholarship, and is one of his final six schools going into his scheduled announcement on May 20 of his college choice.
I wondered what, if any, impact that first scholarship offer had on an elite prospect. That’s why I reached out to CatsIllustrated.com publisher Justin Rowland, who follows recruiting full-time for Rivals.com, about his opinion.
“Being the first school to offer is sometimes important. Not always. Sometimes a school will offer early and then fall off the map. In this case, (Kentucky assistant coach) Steven Clinkscale did a great job of getting Rogers to visit frequently from those earliest days of his recruitment,” Rowland said.
“I remember seeing Rogers with (UK defensive lineman) Marquan McCall at a camp as a young guy. I almost didn’t pay Rogers much attention because his recruitment was so far down the road, but UK’s staff was persistent from a very early stage and that investment of time and energy has obviously paid off.”
Rogers is rated among the nation’s top 10 players in the 2020 class because of his offensive potential. However, it seems he might want to play defense, something UK is willing to let him do.
Does that give UK an edge?
“I think some other schools have said he could get a look on defense but Kentucky really drove the point home, apparently. I was told by one person familiar with Rogers’ official visit that he met with defensive coaches during position meetings on that official,” Rowland said.
“It’s worth mentioning that Rogers was evaluated by Rivals as a five-star prospect on the basis of his potential as an offensive guard. I’m not sure how they would rank him as a defensive line prospect. But Rogers does seem to care and UK’s willingness to accommodate him on that point is helping.”
Rowland says it’s hard to speculate on whether Rogers would be Kentucky’s most talented recruit of the Mark Stoops era.
“It’s a really hard thing to say. Rogers is a five-star recruit and the No. 10 player in the country because Rivals.com sees him as a potentially outstanding offensive guard with the NFL in his future. Because he’s so young, it would seem that Rogers’ size, agility, explosiveness off the ball and power would make him very attractive as a defensive lineman, which is what he apparently wants to be,” Rowland said.
“He would be in the conversation, based on talent and his position, along with Landon Young. I would also put Lynn Bowden up there. While Bowden was a Rivals250 guy and a four-star, I think everybody realized then, and certainly they do now, that he’s an elite talent as well.”