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The Big East's best: No. 9

We're now into the single digits in our countdown of the Top 25 players from the 2010 Big East season, based on last year's performance and impact ...

No. 9

Chris Neild, DT, West Virginia, Sr.

Preseason rank: 17

2010 numbers: Had 35 tackles, including four for loss.

Making the case for Neild: Much like the previous entrant on this list, Terrell McClain, Neild's impact can't really be judged by stats. Like McClain, he did the dirty work up front, clogging the middle and occupying blockers to make the rest of the defense look good.

Neild's responsibilities are even larger in West Virginia's three-man front, and the 6-foot-2, 301-pounder played the best football of his career as a senior. He was a big reason why the Mountaineers allowed fewer than 87 rushing yards per game, second best in the country. On a defense full of standouts, Neild was in my mind the most valuable one.

That's why he was an easy pick as a first-team All-Big East performer and one of the 10 best Big East players in 2010.

Previously

No. 25: Zach Hurd, OG, Connecticut

No. 24: Dave Teggart, K, Connecticut

No. 23: Derrell Smith, LB, Syracuse

No. 22: J.T. Thomas, LB, West Virginia

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

No. 11: Brandon Hogan, CB, West Virginia

No. 10: Terrell McClain, DT, South Florida