We made it to the Top 10.
No. 10 Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt
Previous ranking: No. 25 in Big East 2012 postseason player countdown.
Making the case for Donald: As the person in charge of the Big East postseason rankings a year ago, I admit I ranked Donald too low as I took a second gander at the list. His defense's inconsistent -- and at times mediocre -- play up front overshadowed the way Donald played. His production also dipped slightly -- going from 11 sacks in 2011 to 5.5 last year. But Donald also transitioned to a new position, playing inside more than outside.
Still, he was one of the best players in the Big East and should be one of the best defensive players in the ACC as he goes into his senior season. Donald told me during ACC media days he feels completely comfortable playing inside now and is looking forward to an even better season. If preseason watch lists are any indication, so are outside observers. Donald landed on five of those lists after ranking No. 12 in the nation a year ago in tackles for loss (1.54 per game). Hard to believe he was barely recruited out of high school -- Pitt was the only school from a major conference to offer a scholarship. Pitt is going to need a huge season out of Donald up front if the Panthers are going to truly be contenders in the Coastal Division.