Georgia Football: Looking Back at the 2009 Recruiting Class

David AldridgeFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2013

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 22: Marlon Brown #15 of the Georgia Bulldogs runs with a catch against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Sanford Stadium on September 22, 2012 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

In the weeks following National Signing Day, everyone wants to come up with a grade for a recruiting class and talk about how certain schools succeeded while others failed.

Yet, the reality is that it's impossible to assess rankings for players who have not even played a snap of college football.

The true measure of how successful a given recruiting class performs is best judged when looking back at that class' results over a four year period.

Based on that principlehow does Georgia's most recent graduating class, the recruiting class of 2009, measure up?

According to a recent article by Andy Staples of, Georgia had the sixth ranked class in the nation in 2009.

The Bulldogs signed 21 players in this class, including eight who were listed in the ESPN 150 of the top high school players in the country.

Aaron Murray and Marlon Brown were considered potential stars on the offensive side of the ball and Branden Smith was viewed as a 5-star recruit who could be a shutdown cornerback for the Bulldog defense.

It was an up-and-down four years for this group, and the most high profile recruit of the class, Murray, still has another year at UGA after redshirting during his first year in Athens, Ga.

In its first two seasons at Georgia, the 2009 recruiting class was part of a program that had a 14-12 record and a 7-9 record in the SEC.

Aaron Murray and Orson Charles had shown great potential, but Washaun Ealey and Zach Mettenberger had both been dismissed from the team prior to the 2011 season and highly touted players like Marlon Brown and Austin Long had struggled with injuries.

But the 2011 season was when this recruiting class began to turn things around for Mark Richt and the Georgia football program.

After starting the 2011 season with two straight losses, Aaron Murray helped rally the Bulldogs and guide them to ten straight wins and a berth in the SEC championship game.

The Bulldogs followed up that strong finish with another great year in the 2012, finishing the season at 12-2 and ranked No. 5 in the AP Poll. It was a No. 5 ranking, but many Georgia fans will always believe the Bulldogs were only five short yards away from a National Championship.

Along with Murray's contributions, a number of other players from the 2009 recruiting class have been a big reason for Georgia's success over the past two years.

Chris Burnette and Arthur Lynch have become reliable players for the Georgia offense that were also redshirted along with Aaron Murray and will be able to play one more season for the Bulldogs. And prior to his departure to the NFL following the 2011 season, Orson Charles had emerged as one of the best tight ends in the country.

The 2009 class also left a major impact on the Georgia defense, with players like Shawn Williams, Branden Smith, Abry Jones and Kwame Geathers helping turn the Bulldogs into one of the most aggressive and physical units in the country.

In all, this is a group that has battled through adversity and lived up to the hype. They got off to a slow start, but they have helped return the Georgia football program to an elite level.

With two SEC East Championships and 22 wins over the last two seasons, the players of the 2009 recruiting class deserve a ton of credit.

It takes four years, but this is the time to judge how a team did on National Signing Day. In 2009, the Bulldogs did quite well.