Justin Rogers wants to be more “violent” up front in 2021


Justin Rogers waits to run a drill during the UK football Fan Day open practice on Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021, at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Barkley Truax

Every football team needs a violent nose guard.

Former five-star defensive linemen Justin Rogers said that being more violent is the number one aspect of his game he wants to improve on this fall, which involves becoming more explosive and getting off/getting to the ball quicker.

Violence is a style of play that has gotten many SEC nose guards’ names selected into the NFL Draft, which is where Rogers’ ultimate goal resides. Names like Jadeveon Clowney, Dee Ford, Fletcher Cox and others who have played in and known the violence of this conference and made a career for themselves at the next level. 

That mindset fits perfectly with Rogers playing behind Marquan McCall, who goes by the nickname, “Bully”, who has been a mentor to the sophomore ever since Rogers arrived in Lexington this time last year.

“He just tells me to be patient,” Rogers said about McCall. “Don’t ever get frustrated with the game and just wait your turn because they’ll always call your number when they need you. Just be prepared and when they need you, show out.” Most five-star recruits expect to be impact players for their programs right away, but that wasn’t the case for Rogers. 

Kentucky’s defensive line coach Anwar Stewart said that in the SEC, those highly-touted players aren’t just handed their spots. They have to produce and sharpen their skills before being thrown into the wolves, but BBN should be patient and expect to see Rogers a lot over the next season, despite not being the number one nose guard in Lexington.

“You’ve just got to know your role,” Rogers said about being patient. “Wait your turn until your number gets called.” McCall was in a similar situation, where he had to wait his turn behind current Dallas Cowboys defensive linemen Quinton Bohanna.

McCall had sat out of the first few days of training camp due to personal reasons, which sent Rogers into competing with the starters early this week. Rogers said the transition is all about fundamentals and being coachable. 

“If the coach points something out, I’m going to fix it right then and there,” Rogers said. “I just take it day-by-day.”

Day-by-day is exactly how Rogers has had to take this off-season, as he is recovering from hip surgery following last season. Now that Fall camp is here, he’s back and as violent as ever. 

“I feel way more confident because I got some more playing time last year,” he said. “I want to hit the ground running (this season).” Rogers said that every day gives him a chance to get better and be a key contributing factor to his football team, all he has to do is pace himself and know that his number will get called sooner rather than later.

“He’s doing some really good things,” Stewart said. “He’s just gotta keep coming. He’s young … and has to learn to keep pushing himself. He’s going to be fine.”