Class of 2007: Then and Now

Class of 2007: Then and Now

For Rick Stockstill, the 2007 Blue Raider recruiting class was crucial. First of all, it was the first class that he oversaw from start to end. Secondly, it was his first opportunity to stockpile players to run the systems he had put in place. What it became was the spring board for an up-and-coming program that would soon catch the attention of football fans across the nation.

It's easy to sit down on July 25, 2010 and marvel at the names that have come to shape Middle Tennessee football since Stockstill's first class. At the time, however, the signing class could've been considered a disappointment by many fans and pundits alike.

Ranked the 95th class in the nation by Scout.com, the 2007 roster of signees boasted only one 3-star prospect: JUCO CB Ted Riley, who appeared in 24 games over two seasons for the Blue Raiders. Of the 24 commitments included in the class, only four managed to achieve a national ranking by Scout and of those, only SaCoby Carter and Mark Fisher remain on the roster heading into 2010.

In short, it was a fair reaction by many Blue Raider fans to question the recruiting prowess of their new head coach. Considering this was one of his selling points to fans and boosters upon his hire, this was a legitimate concern to those who followed the program closely. Those doubts seemed to grow after the Blue Raiders found themselves in an 0-4 hole to start the 2007 season. Despite a solid first half against Louisville on national television, Stockstill wasn't able to put much together during the first third of the season. Then things began to change.

One lowly recruited 2007 CB signee named Dwight Dasher had a breakout performance against FIU in which he passed for 240 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another pair of scores. Yes, Dwight Dasher, one of four corners signed in the class, absolutely demolished FIU. He'd do it again to the eventual New Orleans Bowl champion Memphis Tigers two games later.

Obviously, Dasher wasn't recruited with the intent to line up in the secondary. Coach Stockstill and staff have since proven to have a knack for evaluating talent and recruiting system players, but at the time nobody knew that. Dasher was the first glimpse of what was to come for most Blue Raider fans. Although the team would put up two back-to-back losing seasons, the excitement level continued to grow by leaps and bounds. And then, everything came together.

There's really no need in rehashing the 2009 season. Everybody knows about the 10 wins, New Orleans Bowl victory and Dasher's record-setting bowl performance. What most casual fans might not know is how crucial this 2007 signing class was to the effort. Mark Fisher. Antwan Davis. Jeremy Kellem. Kevin Brown. The aforementioned SaCoby Carter and Mark Fisher, and of course Dasher.

The 2007 class was an important piece of the ongoing Stockstill era. Not only did he need it to revive a troubled program, but he also needed it to jumpstart a rising power. Thanks in part to the hard work of all of these players, the 2009 campaign put the program on the map. Now headed into what will be many of those commitments' last season, they've got a chance to go above and beyond what any Blue Raider fan expected in February of 2007.

It will undoubtedly be an exciting thing to watch. With pre-season prognosticators ready to hand the Blue Raiders their first outright Sun Belt title and some even going so far to suggest an undefeated season, the 2007 class has a lot to live up to in 2010. Then again, they were only supposed to be the 95th best batch of players to begin with. Not too bad for a bunch of nobodies.

Keep it tuned to BlueRaiderZone.com for more exclusive Middle Tennessee coverage throughout the season.

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