UK Recruiting

Top-10 football player ‘could have went anywhere he wanted.’ Kentucky got him.

Mark Stoops: ‘Next year will be the smallest class I’ve signed’

University of Kentucky football head coach Mark Stoops spoke to press about the introduction of M.J. Devonshire from Pennsylvania, and how the next football seasons would be the smallest signing class he's had.
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University of Kentucky football head coach Mark Stoops spoke to press about the introduction of M.J. Devonshire from Pennsylvania, and how the next football seasons would be the smallest signing class he's had.

A five-star recruit from outside state lines has picked the University of Kentucky.

Justin Rogers, a 6-foot-2, 310-pound offensive guard out of Oak Park (Mich.), picked UK during a commitment ceremony at his high school Monday afternoon. Rogers is ranked as the top player at his position and the top player in the state of Michigan by both 247Sports and Rivals.com.

Rivals rates Rogers as a five-star prospect and as the No. 10 player overall in the class of 2020. Landon Young, who was a standout offensive lineman at Lafayette High School in Lexington, is the only five-star recruit to sign with UK since Rivals began rating recruits in 2002. Young was ranked 29th overall in the 2016 class.

Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Michigan and Tennessee were the other schools in Rogers’ final six.

“They’re winning a heavyweight battle against upper-echelon programs in the SEC,” said Steve Wiltfong, the director of recruiting at 247Sports, which has Rogers ranked as a four-star prospect and 30th overall in his class. “This is a kid who could have went anywhere he wanted. He visited Kentucky numerous times and his latest official visit really turned it.”

Rogers visited Georgia, where former teammate D’Wan Mathis, a quarterback, signed as part of the 2019 recruiting class, over the weekend, but his visit to UK on April 26 was the most recent one before he announced his final list of schools and set an announcement date on May 8.

The early signing period for football begins Dec. 18 while the normal signing period starts Feb. 5. UK has a commitment from Rogers, but nothing’s truly official until the ink dries come winter.

“Schools aren’t gonna go away on Justin, who has been an impressionable kid throughout the process,” Wiltfong said. “But at Kentucky, you’re fired up.”

Wiltfong said Rogers can be a “difference-maker” on either side of the trenches. He’s rated by 247Sports and Rivals as an offensive guard but the schools involved in his recruitment late are open to moving him to defensive tackle, where Wiltfong said he projects more favorably as a pro prospect.

“He’s thick, tough and physical, and has some twitch to him,” Wiltfong said.

Marquan McCall, a former teammate of Rogers’ at Oak Park, is a sophomore at UK. Deandre Square, also a sophomore at UK from the Detroit area, is another Wildcat with ties to Rogers. McCall was in attendance for Rogers’ announcement.

Rogers is the highest-rated prospect to come out of Oak Park.

“Justin, his ability to be focused on game day, to compete at a high level, is unmatched,” said Oak Park Coach Greg Carter, who played baseball at Kentucky State University in the 1970s.

Rogers’ commitment moved UK up to No. 22 from No. 36 nationally in Rivals’ rankings of 2020 recruiting classes. UK, which expects to sign only about 15-17 players as part of this cycle, has five 2020 commitments, including three four-star prospects: quarterback Beau Allen, offensive tackle John Young and defensive tackle Lamar Goods. Andru Phillips, a three-star cornerback, has also committed to the Wildcats. Kentucky also last week added four-star linebacker Xavier Peters, a transfer from Florida State who will become eligible in 2020.

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