Top 25 player countdown: No. 21

No. 21. Conner Vernon, WR, Duke

2010 numbers: He caught 73 passes for 946 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed five times for 40 yards and returned six kickoffs for 143 yards and a 23.8 yards per return average. He led the ACC with 6.08 receptions per game, ranked third in receiving yards per game (81.1) and fifth in all-purpose yards per game (96.3). He caught at least one pass in all 12 weeks.

Previous ranking: No. 25

Making the case for Vernon: Duke coach David Cutcliffe has called Vernon the “most fearless wide receiver” he has ever coached. He’s one of the program’s most accomplished receivers, but here’s an argument for the naysayers out there who say Duke’s receivers are merely a product of their system: So Jonathan Dwyer didn’t deserve credit at Georgia Tech because he's the product of a run-based offense? Montel Harris at BC? Vernon has good size and speed, great hands and is consistent. He has already proved himself as one of the best receivers in the ACC. He'll do it again in 2011.

No. 22 Jarret Boykin, WR, Virginia Tech

No. 23 Omoregie Uzzi, OG, Georgia Tech

No. 24 Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson

No. 25 EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State