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2007 vs. 2009 - Which Class Meant More to UK?

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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.

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Tags: Andre' Woodson, Corey Peters, John Conner, Keenan Burton, Kentucky Football, Kentucky Wildcats, Micah Johnson, Rafael Little, Trevard Lindley

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Comment by Blue Blood 00 on December 29, 2009 at 3:28pm
Both classes are very important to this program. Yes it is so easy to automatically say that the 07 class was more important, because most of those players played in standout positions, such as our QB,RB,WR, and TE. Then LB in Woodyard. The 07 class had the most players to either be drafted or signed by a NFL team in one class in a long time as well. But I strongly agree that most of all UK fans thought that once this one pretty solid class of 07 was gone, that we would return to our old ways. This was far from the case. As we were able to do something that is arguably harder to do than get the ball rolling, but to help sustain it. That is exactly what this 09 class has done. It has put a stamp on the Brooks era, as not a two year fluke of a pretty good class, but a body of hardwork that has transformed this program into a very competitive program, that if you don't lace them up against Kentucky, you will go home with a loss. And even better, you can come to play, bring your A game, and UK can still beat most of any teams on a given Saturday. I will say, even though there were more stars in the class of 07, that from top to bottom we have more talent now than then. I argue this because of the fact that, we do not have the receivers we had then, we sure do not have the tight end that we had then or the level QB just yet, but with all of those key positions lacking the bigtime playmakers that we did have with that class, we were able to still stay at the level we were at. This comes from having more talent from top to bottom, more quality depth in each positions, for now there is not a huge difference between the 1st and 2nd string player at a lot of positions. And there is not a noticeable difference between the 2nd and 3rd string playres at all. This has all come from the recruiting not dropping off, but staying strong, and developing players the right way, and the attitude of our team now that we no longer come into a game hoping to hang around, but we come into tough SEC games, feeling we should win!

So even though, there is more notable victories for the 07 class, more standout talent, I will give a DRAW to the two classes, as either are just as important as the other. Without one the shape of our program would not be possible to be where it is, and where it is going.

One note, the 09 class unfortunatly did not win 4 straight bowl games. Played in 4 straight, winning 3 out of 4.
Comment by Brad on December 27, 2009 at 6:11pm
I think 2007 has the better class and it's not really close.. They underachieved towards the end but I firmly believe we could have won enough for a BCS game if we didnt hiccup against USC and Miss State.

I mean, look at those names. Each player was arguably the best UK player ( at their respective position) of the past decade.. We have some real good players now, but not the same level. And the competitiveness of the SEC has gone down considerably since then. Back then there were many powers, now its just a bipolar power at the top and the rest of the teams trying to knock them out.

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