By LARRY VAUGHT
Almost as soon as Michigan five-star lineman Justin Rogers verbally committed in mid-May of 2019 — seven months before national signing day — speculation started nationally that he would eventually flip to a more traditional football power like Alabama or Georgia if he did leave the state. Instead, he never wavered in his commitment to UK.
“I didn’t really pay attention to all that speculation. I knew where my head was in my commitment,” Rogers said. “Me and the (UK) coaches built a bond. It was already family for real. I was eager to commit because I felt comfortable with everybody there.”
It didn’t hurt that former Oak Park teammate Marquan McCall was already at UK or that linebacker DeAndre Square of Detroit was, too.
“It was just the right fit, so I jumped the gun and committed,” Rogers said. “People were telling me congratulations but also that I might have done it too early but I felt it was the right time. I am ready to go hop on the field now, lace up the cleats and go to work.”
Rogers was that rare high school player who dominated both the offensive and defensive line play. He was considered a better collegiate offensive line prospect by many but the more he heard that, the more determined he was to play defense.
“People were telling me I won’t be that good on defense even in high school, that it’s not a good fit,” he said. “I had to prove to everybody I could play defense and make my mark. I did great and shocked people.
“I love playing both sides of the ball. I can play anywhere. I even played linebacker a couple of games. I just love the game and have for as long as I can remember. That’s why I just played football and nothing else.”
Rogers can remember how happy he was when college coaches started watching him play and never felt the recruiting process was a burden despite the enormous amount of scholarship offers he had.
“Recruiting was hard but for me it was like letting a little kid in the candy store,” Rogers said. “It was so hard to pick the right school but I just felt Kentucky was right. It felt like home and my mom was definitely on board with Kentucky. She loved it when she went down there.”