Top 25 player countdown: No. 12

No. 12. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

2011 stats: As part of a three-man starting rotation last season with Mike Harris and former Nole Greg Reid, Rhodes had 43 tackles (36 solo), with 1.5 tackles for loss, one interception and four pass breakups.

Previous ranking: Not ranked.

Making the case for Rhodes: At 6-foot-2, 209 pounds, Rhodes is a big, physical cover corner who should flourish in his fourth season in the program. Rhodes is the best corner on the Noles’ roster, and he has the speed and ability to change direction on a dime. He’s also got good hands and ball skills. He had five tackles last season against ACC champ Clemson, and four in the win against Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl. He’s on the preseason watch lists for the Bednarik, Nagurski and Thorpe awards.