Georgia Football: Power Ranking the Bulldogs' 5 Best Classes of the BCS Era
Ever since Mark Richt became the Bulldogs head coach in 2001, his recruiting classes have been solid. And this year will be no different as 247Sports claims he has 18 players verbally committed (Jacob Park is the only recruit that is enrolled early).
But as we get closer to National Signing Day, what classes are the five best in the BCS era? And of those five, which one is the best? There have been a lot of players during that time that did some good things in Athens, and some of them even have gone on to do even bigger things in the NFL.
So let’s take a look and see which five are the best.
No. 5: 2008 Class
2008 didn't live up to expectations.
But there were a bunch of talented players, and some of those players helped the Bulldogs reach the SEC Championship in 2011.
A.J. Green led the class and would go on to become one of the most celebrated receivers in UGA history. This class also included cornerbacks Brandon Boykin and Sanders Commings, safety Bacarri Rambo, kicker Blair Walsh, defensive tackle DeAngelo Tyson and receiver Tavarres King.
Green is now a standout player for the Cincinnati Bengals while Boykin and Walsh are doing big things for the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings, respectfully.
No. 4: 2009 Class
Following the 2008 class was the class of 2009, which was led by Aaron Murray. With numerous SEC records to his name, Murray became one of the most beloved Bulldogs in school history.
But this class also included tight end Arthur Lynch, safety Shawn Williams, cornerback Branden Smith, offensive lineman Dallas Lee, defensive lineman Abry Jones and tight end Orson Charles, who was Murray’s high school classmate.
This class also included Zach Mettenberger, who transferred to LSU after being kicked off the team for violating team rules.
The 2009 class was responsible for two appearances to the SEC title game and two bowl victories.
No. 3: 2011 Class
One of the reasons Murray and the Bulldogs were able to go to the SEC title game in 2011 was that they recruited well that season.
Known as the “Dream Team,” the class included some of the top players in Georgia, such as running back Isaiah Crowell, defensive end Ray Drew, tight end Jay Rome, receiver Justin Scott-Wesley, linebacker Amarlo Herrera and cornerback Damian Swann.
This class also had Nick Marshall, but he was kicked off the team shortly after signing. He is now the starting quarterback at Auburn and was a key piece to the Tigers' SEC title and a run at the BCS Championship.
Ramik Wilson was also part of this signing class and emerged as one of the best linebackers in the conference this past season.
No. 2: 2006 Class
Matthew Stafford was the top player in the class and helped the Bulldogs win the Sugar Bowl in 2007, which was the last time the Bulldogs played in a BCS game.
But Stafford was also joined by running back Knowshon Moreno, who gave the Bulldogs a spark that season with his quickness and explosion. Stafford is now part of the Detroit Lions and Moreno is with the Denver Broncos and he’s one win away from earning a Super Bowl ring.
This class also featured receiver Kris Durham, defensive back Asher Allen, linebacker Akeem Dent and defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who emerged as one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL before tearing his ACL this past Halloween.
No. 1: 2001 Class
The best class during the BCS era had to be Richt’s first class. The group helped the Bulldogs win the SEC Championship and Sugar Bowl in 2002 and reach the SEC Championship game in 2003.
Defensive end David Pollack was not the highest recruited player in the class, but he became the best as he was a consensus All-American in 2002, 2003 and 2004. But this class also included quarterback D.J. Shockley, who led the Bulldogs to an SEC title in 2005.
Other notable players in the class are defensive backs Thomas Davis and Greg Blue, receiver Fred Gibson and linebacker Odell Thurman.
Along with players that were recruited by Jim Donnan, like David Green (2000), Boss Bailey (1998) and Terrence Edwards (1998), this class helped put the Bulldogs on the map and also helped Richt become a successful coach in the SEC.