A great topic was brought up during a recent sportstalk radio show in Lexington. Larry Vaught, Mark Buerger and I began the discussion of which recent senior class of UK football players was more important to the program - the 2007 class or 2009 class?
On the outset you might think that the 2007 class of Jacob Tamme, Andre Woodson, Wesley Woodyard, Rafael Little, Keenan Burton and company would easily rate as a better class. This group of seniors is credited with bringing Kentucky football back to where they are today. They committed to Kentucky when the Cats were coming off probation, had just hired a (questionable?) new coach, and had to suffer through a couple of dismal 2 win and 3 win seasons. This senior class finished with back-to-back 8-5 seasons and won back-to-back Music City Bowls. They are credited with putting Kentucky football "back on the map".
The 2009 senior class hasn't had all of the accolades of the 2007 class. This group of Micah Johnson, Trevard Lindley, Corey Peters, Zipp Duncan, John Conner, Justin Jefferies, and company can argue that they've not only played in four straight bowl games, but they've WON four straight bowl games. They can also argue that if the 2007 class put UK football back on "the right track", this class "kept them there". After the 2007 class graduated, many thought the Cats would fall back into sub-500 seasons. It didn't happen. If nothing else, the Cats over-achieved and overcame lots of adversity to get back to bowl eligibility.
Tamme, Woodson, Burton, and company may have received all of the headlines and been in all of the highlites, but I would argue that Peters, Johnson, Lindley and company provided the "nuts and bolts" of what truly makes a good football team. These current senior offensive linemen rarely get any recognition, yet Rich Brooks called them the best offensive line he's coached during his UK tenure. Several of these current seniors played crucial roles in UK bowl wins during the Tamme, Woodson, Burton era, and yet here they stand again poised and ready to play crucial roles in bowl games after the 2007 class was long gone. Plus, current UK senior Lones Seiber leaves Kentucky as the school's career scoring leader.
Maybe the best fact to try and settle this argument of which class meant more to the UK football program actually happened "off" the field. It could have been when Trevard Lindley, Micah Johnson and Jeremy Jarmon (who also would have been in this class) all turned down great chances to enter the NFL to return to Kentucky for their senior seasons. They wanted to continue to be a part of "something special". They wanted to continue "the path" that they had started as freshmen. They wanted to continue to make UK football better. Even though Jarmon obviously never got to play his senior season at Kentucky, the trio's decision to come back to UK spoke volumes of what this class meant to the program.
This 2009 class may not have had all of the accolades as the 2007 class. They may not have been in all of the hi-lites or been in all the headlines, but upon further review I think this 2009 class can stand proud as being more important to the UK football program.