When Rich Brooks accepted the head coaching job at Kentucky, he had one supreme goal in mind for his new team.
It wasn't just getting Kentucky to win some games here and there. It wasn't just getting them to knock on the door of some of the top SEC schools. The goal was for one thing and one thing only: make Kentucky into an SEC power and national name.
It took some time for the Kentucky faithful to get behind Brooks and accept the new coach.
After the LSU thumping in 2006, blue and white wanted him gone for good.
Then after the year ended with a Music City Bowl win over Clemson, Brooks sold himself on the faithful. That was just the start of the turnaround that he had in store for Kentucky.
Like the previous year, Brooks made another splash for the Wildcats in 2007: notching the first win against Louisville in his tenure and getting the attention of the nation. Kentucky was ranked for the first time in ages.
That was only the start for 2007.
GameDay, a revered college football program on ESPN, broadcasted live from Lexington for Kentucky's matchup with Florida, a game the Wildcats lost in a heartbreaker.
Kentucky also hosted the No. 1 team in the country—LSU—and beat the Tigers in four overtimes.
Kentucky went on to beat a depleted Florida State team in the Music City Bowl, winning that event for the second year in a row.
Brooks wanted more and Kentucky now expected more.
2008 was a rebuilding year and nobody expected Kentucky to keep up with the previous two years. The year didn't produce a signature triumph, but winning enough games to go to a third straight bowl game sat well with Kentucky fans.
The Liberty Bowl offered a new scene and a new chance for the Wildcats. Kentucky was matched up with a talented East Carolina team that had won the Conference USA title.
Everybody had written Kentucky off before, and at halftime, of the game. Kentucky rallied and beat the Pirates the only way it knows best: defense.
The season ended the way it began—with a win. Brooks and Co. had set school records in the process and let everyone know that Kentucky wasn't just a basketball state.
Kentucky fans were hungry for more. They all were looking forward to signing day on Feb. 4. They wanted to see what new talent would be wearing the blue and white the next year.
Brooks and his assistant coaches were not going to let the Bluegrass State down. They came away with the best recruiting class since Brooks took the head coaching job. They filled every spot that they needed for next year.
Brooks signed two of the best quarterbacks in the nation and added some talented junior college transfers to fill some much-needed depth on both sides of the ball. They recruited in 12 different states.
According to Rivals.com, Kentucky ranked among the top 25 at certain positions: quarterbacks (No. 6), wide receivers (No. 23), tight ends (No. 11), and defensive ends (No. 15).
Here is a look at the class of 2009 signees:
- Name: position, star rating, state
- Brian Adams: WR/QB, 2-star, Georgia
- Jordan Aumiller: LB, 2-star, Kentucky
- Justin Bean: WR, 2-star, Mississippi
- Mister Cobble: DT, 2-star, Kentucky
- Mark Crawford: DT, 3-star, Kansas, JUCO
- DeQuin Evans: DE, 4-star, California, JUCO
- Jonathan George: RB, 2-star, Alabama
- Qua Huzzie: LB, 3-star, Georgia
- Tristian Johnson: DE, 3-star, Georgia
- Anthony Kendrick: TE, 3-star, Texas
- LaRod King: WR, 3-star, Kentucky
- Patrick Ligon: DE, 2-star, Tennessee
- Chris Matthews: WR, 4-star, California, JUCO
- Demetri Merritt: LB, 2-star, Georgia
- Kevin Mitchell: OL, 2-star, Georgia
- Terrell Mitchell: TE, 3-star, Georgia
- Ryan Mosby: LB, 3-star, Texas
- Ryan Mossakowski: QB, 4-star, Texas
- Martavius Neloms: DB, 2-star, Tennessee
- Morgan Newton: QB, 3-star, Indiana
- Donte Rumph: DE, 3-star, Virgina, JUCO
- Donald Russell: RB, 3-star, Florida
- Sam Simpson: OL, 3-star, Kentucky
- Dakotah Tyler: RB, 2-star, Indiana
- Jarvis Walker: LB 3-star, Louisana
- Myron Walker: DT, 3-star, Louisana
- Larry Warford: OL, 3-star, Kentucky
- Ridge Wilson: LB, 3-star, Kentucky