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AJ Rose is ready for the spotlight

Rose is not Benny Snell, and that’s a good thing for Kentucky’s offense in 2019.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 01 Central Michigan at Kentucky Photo by Mat Gdowski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Asim ‘AJ’ Rose Jr. was one of the best backup running backs in the SEC last season.

Now that Benny Snell is off to the NFL, Rose is expected to step up and be the feature running back for a Kentucky Wildcats team coming off of their best season in decades.

AJ Rose

  • Position: Running back
  • Measurements: 6’1”, 210 lbs.
  • Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
  • School: Garfield Heights High School
  • Recruit Rankings: No. 85 athlete in 2016

AJ Rose has always been a phenomenal athlete, and was a fantastic basketball player in high school. He even played quarterback his junior year of high school when the starter when down to injury. Rose is a gamer, and he came to Kentucky to show the world that he is special.

After redshirting in 2016 and being hampered by injury in 2017, Rose stepped up in 2018 to serve as a solid backup for all-time Kentucky great Benny Snell. He carried the ball 71 times for 442 yards and five touchdowns.

Rose showed that he has speed, explosiveness, and more power than was expected. In averaging 6.2 yards per carry, Rose showed that he can run down hill when needed, stretch the field with his speed, and make things happen when the ball is in his hands. His most memorable run of 2018 was his 75 yard touchdown against Louisville where nobody laid a finger on him.

A big concern from Big Blue Nation is that AJ Rose will be trying to fill the enormous shoes of Benny Snell. However, Rose is a very different running style than Snell. And for this roster, I believe that is actually a good thing.

“You know he’s going to be hard to replace, but I’m going to go out there and do me,” Rose said when asked about replacing Snell after the Spring Game. “I’m going to try to bring as much to the table as I can and you know, hopefully break his record.”

At times last season, the offense relied solely on Snell getting 5 yards in a cloud of dust and moving on to the next play. The scheme was based on the run game. Terry Wilson and Lynn Bowden made plays occasionally, but they were not focal parts of the offense.

Considering the speed and playmaking ability of both Wilson and Bowden, it is likely that Eddie Gran will design an offense that is more up-tempo and allows them to get the ball in space. If that is the case, Rose’s style is a much better fit for that type of offense.

Rose had eight receptions last season for 82 yards, but in an offense that throws the ball more he will be a vital weapon in the passing game. I fully expect more called screens and for Rose to get his number called on check-downs several times per game, and so does he.

“I think you’ll see more of us catching the ball in the backfield too,” Rose said. “We all have great hands and when Terry (Wilson) doesn’t see anything downfield he has to depend on us.”

In order for this team to be successful, they have to have a reliable threat on the ground outside of Terry Wilson. Not only is AJ Rose reliable, but I believe he has everything it takes to be a feature back in the SEC. Will he win the Heisman Trophy this year? Probably not. But he will be a key part of an offense that has a chance to be dangerous.