Another week brings more counting down our list of the Top 25 players in the Big East for 2010, based on performance and impact. Inching closer to the Top 10 now ...
Brandon Hogan, CB, West Virginia, Sr.
Preseason rank: Not ranked
2010 numbers: Had 37 tackles, three interceptions, six pass breakups and a forced fumble.
Making the case for Hogan: Talking to reporters last week, West Virginia defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel mentioned that Hogan might have been the most important player on last year's Mountaineers defense. That's really saying something for a defense that ranked among the very best in the country and had standout players at just about every position.
But Casteel's point was well taken. Opposing offenses gave Hogan the highest sign of respect: they simply avoided his side of the field as much as possible. Teammate Keith Tandy made the All-Big East first team instead of Hogan because of his high interception total, but Tandy freely admitted that the reason he put up such big stats was because teams threw toward him and not Hogan. He knew that Hogan was the best shut-down cornerback in the Big East, one who allowed Casteel to bring pressure without hesitation. Hogan's one-game suspension showed how valuable he was, as Maryland connected on several long passes in his absence.
Was Hogan the best Mountaineer defender last year? I've got one other rated higher. But he was clearly among the best in the Big East in 2010.
No. 25: Zach Hurd, OG, Connecticut
No. 24: Dave Teggart, K, Connecticut
No. 23: Derrell Smith, LB, Syracuse
No. 21: Johnny Patrick, CB, Louisville
No. 20: Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh
No. 19: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
No. 18: Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati
No. 17: Kendall Reyes, DL, Connecticut
No. 16: Jason Pinkston, OT, Pittsburgh
No. 15: Jon Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
No. 14: Robert Sands, S, West Virginia
No. 13: Brandon Lindsey, DE, Pittsburgh
No. 12: Doug Hogue, LB, Syracuse