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Kentucky Football Player Profile: A.J. Rose

He is expected to take a step forward. How big of a step will that be?

Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

Benny Snell very well may be the best running back in the SEC. He may even be the best running back to ever play for the Kentucky Wildcats. The one thing he needs to prove these things is a running-mate to share the load.

Enter Asim “A.J.” Rose.

Position: Running Back

Measurements: 6’1”, 208 lbs.

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

School: Garfield Heights High School

Recruit Rankings: No. 25 running back in 2016

Rose arrived on campus in the fall of 2016. He was looking at a backfield in front of him that included Jojo Kemp, Boom Williams, and Benny Snell. Wisely, he was redshirted that season.

Rose utilized that time to learn Kentucky’s offense, gain some weight (he weighed 185 lbs. coming out of high school), and adapt to the college game. His improvements have been obvious, as Eddie Gran noted after a practice last August.

“I like A.J.’s physicality. I like that he is fast. He shows a burst that we really didn’t know he had,” Gran said. “He’s got a chance to run between the tackles and he’s a guy that can run outside, too.”

One early criticism of Rose was his ability to process the game mentally. He apparently made strides there during his redshirt year as well.

“He has continued to progress in the offense,” Gran said. “A lot less of the mental errors and you just keep seeing that athleticism pop out.”

It really seemed like he was putting it all together going into his first season as an active player, but if you look at his statistics for the season you will see a measly 15 carries for 37 yards and only one catch for a single yard.

That’s not quite the breakout season many expected from the Ohio native.

However, he suffered an ankle injury during fall camp that continued to plague him throughout the season. He only appeared in four games, with the majority of his carries coming against Mississippi State...where he re-injured his ankle.

Rose took a back seat to then-junior Sihiem King and never really got any traction.

However, when spring practice rolled around the A.J. Rose showed up that we had expected all along.

Carrying the ball only 11 times, Rose ran for 134 yards and 3 touchdowns in the spring Blue-White game. He stood out more than anyone else, exciting coaches and fans alike with his ability to make plays.

As I mentioned in the beginning, Benny Snell is the man that will have the ball in his hands most of the time. But if A.J. Rose can be who he was in the spring game, his play will demand a fair-share of carries as well.

I expect a healthy Rose to have a solid season and to establish himself as the No. 2 in a 1-2 punch with Benny Snell, but also as the running back of the future in Lexington. His performance this season will be an appetizer for what we can all expect in a Benny-less season next year.

Check out the Blue-White game highlights below to get a taste of what A.J. Rose will be doing in Kroger Field this fall: