Top 25 player countdown: No. 13

No. 13. James Gayle, DE, Virginia Tech

2011 stats: He started all 13 games he played in and had 38 tackles, including 12.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks -- which tied him for sixth in the ACC. He also had 20 quarterback hurries.

Previous ranking: Not ranked.

Making the case for Gayle: This past spring, Gayle earned Super Iron Hokie honors when he recorded a 39½-inch vertical jump, 400-pound bench press and 4.44 40-yard dash. Yikes. Gayle has the combination of size, strength, speed and athletic ability needed to become a dominant defensive end in the conference. There are high expectations for him in Blacksburg this year. He had a good, consistent spring, he just needs to stay healthy, focused and keep it up.