By LARRY VAUGHT
He couldn’t match what Benny Snell, Kentucky’s all-time leading rusher, did. He wasn’t Lynn Bowden, perhaps the nation’s biggest surprise last season after his move from receiver to quarterback to receiver.
But when Kentucky needed him, running back A.J. Rose was there to run, block or do whatever.
Thursday he announced on Twitter he could be back at UK for his senior season. Some had speculated with UK’s depth at running back that he might put his name into the transfer portal for his fifth season. Apparently Rose wasn’t thinking of doing that but did contemplate putting his name into the NBA draft.
“Many of you have asked what I’m doing next season and although playing in the NFL has always been my dream, I have decided to return for my senior year and help my brothers compete for the East and a SEC championship,” Rose posted on Twitter. “In 2016, I arrived on campus as a freshman ready to be a part of something special at the University of Kentucky. We have definitely changed the program into something special, but we have unfinished business to take care of in 2020.”
Rose came to UK in 2016 — the same year Snell did. Snell became the bell cow for the UK offense and Rose was redshirted one year and then backed up Snell for two season. Rose rushed for 826 yards and six scores on 149 carries — an average of 5.5 yards per run. Problem for him was Bowden ran for 1,468 yards in eight games and overshadowed Rose’s solid season.
Rose would need 695 yards next season to become just the 10th player in school history to rush for 2,000 or more yards. Only Snell, Sonny Collins and Moe Williams have made it to 3,000 yards at UK.
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops seems to have a propensity for giving his most experienced players the chance to start and Rose will be pushed to keep his starting job by sophomore Chris Rodriguez and Kavosiey Smoke, who both played extremely well at times in 2019. The Kentucky coaches also love the speed of redshirt freshman Travis Tisdale, who got only a few chances to play in 2019.
But there could be more. JuTahn McCann has already signed with Kentucky and most national recruiting analysts expect Torrance Davis and Michael Drennen as well.