It’s a hot, muggy summer day in Louisville. It’s even steamier inside the old, air-condition-less warehouse that is the home of Aspirations Gym. There’s a new face perfecting his drop-steps alongside Kiyaunta Goodwin, and unlike every other person, this human is not dwarfed by the young phenom.
Standing 6-feet, 7-inches tall and covered in sweat from head to toe, Dare Rosenthal glides across the turf. He is every bit of 325 pounds, yet Rosenthal looks more like a point guard than an offensive lineman, shuffling his feet and changing direction effortlessly through the sticky air. Instead of being bogged down, Dare is refreshed, ready to begin the next chapter of his life with a clean slate at the University of Kentucky.
“I feel like that’ll take a lot of pressure off my back, give me a clear head and a clear mind without so much to worry about,” he told KSR in between one of his two daily workouts.
Thursday afternoon Rosenthal made the long-rumored move official by announcing that he will transfer from LSU to Kentucky for the 2021 season. The Tigers’ starting left tackle certainly fits the bill as “future first round talent,” providing an instant upgrade to the Wildcats’ already loaded offensive line. Rosenthal is set to join his new teammates in Lexington next week.
Like many other twists and turns in his career, the move to Kentucky was not initially a part of Rosenthal’s college football plan.
From two hours of north of Baton Rouge in Ferriday, Louisiana, Rosenthal grew up cheering for the Bayou Bengals. A prolific prep prospect, the four-star recruit signed with LSU as a defensive tackle. The following year he switched positions across the line of scrimmage, moving to left tackle. Despite the change of plans, Dare stayed the course and helped bring a National Championship trophy back to Louisiana.
The rest of Rosenthal’s story was not exactly a happily ever after. Dealing with personal issues, he was on and off the team throughout the 2020 calendar year. Looking for a fresh start, he got help from a familiar face, Kelvin Joseph.
“I mainly relied on one of my closest friends to give me the rundown.”
Rosenthal and Joseph started their college football careers together as members of LSU’s 2018 signing class. When the artist known as Bossman Fat needed a change of scenery, Lexington provided the perfect refuge, allowing him to live up to his potential by becoming a day two NFL Draft pick for the Dallas Cowboys. The talented cornerback gave his old buddy a ringing endorsement of Mark Stoops’ football program.
“One of my former teammates came here. I got a strong relationship with him. We had a talk and I liked how they helped him on and off the field,” Rosenthal said. “With my situation, I want to get more involved in the area, in the community around the school.” He added, “It’s a great place with great coaches and got great relationships with everybody in the building.”
Kentucky provided a good fit away from the field and on the gridiron. The Wildcats’ offensive line has gained notoriety in recent years. Now John Schlarman’s legacy has made the Big Blue Wall a desired destination for the nation’s nastiest trench warriors.
“I feel like it’s going to be a good group. UK is one of the best offensive line schools in the nation. I feel like they’ll help me develop more on and off the field,” Dare said.
Rosenthal should see the field right away for the Wildcats. He will see plenty of familiar foes this fall, including his former team. He has not circled the Oct. 9 date with LSU on his calendar, leaving his home state school with no ill-will or animosity.
What remains a mystery is where he will line up for the Wildcats when they take on the Tigers. Darian Kinnard earned preseason All-American honors based on his play at right tackle, but upon his return for a senior season Kinnard planned a move too left tackle, Rosenthal’s position. Dare does not care where he plays for Kentucky this fall.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “Whatever the team needs.”
Rosenthal’s plans have changed a few times throughout his collegiate career. If all goes according to plan in Lexington, this fresh start could provide the perfect match for Kentucky and the incredibly gifted quiet giant.