The Kentucky Wildcats are looking to have a big year on the football side of things in 2022, and one player that could be taking a big step is defensive lineman Justin Rogers.
During his first two years at Kentucky, Rogers has got to sit behind and learn from two NFL Draft picks in Quinton Bohanna and Phil Hoskins. A third should be added to that list this year with Marquan McCall.
Rogers’ role will be expanded this year as he is expected to rotate in the starting lineup with Josiah Hayes, Octavious Oxendine, and other young talented linemen.
In an interview with Aaron Gershon of Cats Pause, Rogers said, “I feel like it’s a rotation. It’s like next man up,” Rogers said. “I feel like it’s my time to shine.”
He continued, “We definitely want to set the bar. We’re all young, but I feel like we have that mindset of Josh (Paschal), Marquan, Q (Quinton Bohanna) and Phil from when they were here.”
Rogers was ranked as the No. 52 overall recruit in the 2020 class and was the No. 7 overall defensive tackle.
In today’s college football world, being behind two future NFL players would likely result in a player deciding to transfer out. That wasn’t the case for Rogers.
“Why would I leave? It doesn't make sense for me to leave,” Rogers said. “I have these two NFL guys, great guys in front of me. I just want to learn from them. It doesn’t make sense for me to start all over again. I’d be behind the 8-ball. It doesn't make sense for me to leave.”
Last season, Rogers played in all 13 games, starting in four games, and recorded 16 total tackles (2.5 for loss) and 1.5 sacks.
Rogers saw an expanded role when injuries to McCall and Oxendine struck but the extra playing time is only going to make him better this season.
“It prepared me a whole lot,” Rogers said. “Getting like the mental reps at practice now transferred to the game.”
The Kentucky defensive line is going to young in 2022 but that doesn’t mean they are not extremely talented, and we should expect a big season from the highly rated young talent up front.