UK Football

Ohio running back could be ‘biggest sleeper’ of UK’s recruiting class

AJ Rose is ranked the 25th-best running back in the class of 2016.
AJ Rose is ranked the 25th-best running back in the class of 2016.

Ever since he committed to Kentucky nearly a year ago, AJ Rose has kept a relatively low profile by recruiting standards.

Major programs such as Ohio State continued to pursue him, but Rose showed little interest in the recruiting process once he decided on the Wildcats.

He ended the recruiting cycle ranked by as the No. 25 running back in the country, and he officially signed with UK on Wednesday.

“AJ could end up being the biggest sleeper of the class,” analyst Josh Helmholdt told the Herald-Leader. “I know that’s tough to say when the guy is ranked No. 25 in the country at his position, but not a lot of people are talking about him. And he really has an exceptional skill set.

“You may not see an instant impact, because he has some refinement to do on the finer points of playing the game. But he really is an exceptional athlete who I think can be an explosive offensive weapon in Kentucky’s backfield.”

UK got in on Rose’s recruitment before other potential suitors had even identified him as a possible target, and the early commitment to the Wildcats prevented his name from blowing up on the national scene.

Helmholdt said Rose “really can do it all,” and has the size and speed to be a threat on the ground or catching balls out of the backfield. There also will be little to no immediate expectations with returnees such as Boom Williams, Jojo Kemp, Mikel Horton and Sihiem King at running back.

“I think the best situation for AJ would be to come in and take a (redshirt) year,” Helmholdt said. “He definitely has room to fill out on his frame. And just work on his trade. He’s a guy that is going to benefit from coaching. And benefit from learning how to be a great SEC back.”

Ben Roberts: 859-231-3216, @NextCats