Now it is time to weigh in with your choice for Big East defensive player of the year. Here are my top four candidates:
Khaseem Greene, LB, Rutgers. Greene led the Big East with 127 tackles and ranked No. 12 nation in tackles per game. Of those tackles, 67 were solo to rank in the top 20 in the nation as well. He had seven games with double-figure tackle totals, including a career-high 17 stops against USF. Greene moved from safety to linebacker this season to help with team speed. It went beyond helping, though. It lifted the entire unit to the top-ranked group in the Big East.
Dexter Heyman, Louisville. Heyman led the Cardinals with 83 tackles to rank No. 10 in the Big East. He also had 15.5 tackles for loss, ranking No. 3 in the Big East. What is incredible is that Heyman nearly doubled his tackle total from last season, when he had 48. Heyman also led the team with three interceptions and was the anchor in the middle for a defense that really got better as the season went on.
JK Schaffer, Cincinnati. Schaffer has been one of the best tacklers in the Big East throughout his career, and that was no different in 2011 when he finished with his third straight 100-tackle season. Schaffer had 105 to finish third in the Big East. He also was active in pass defense with nine pass breakups and three interceptions. Schaffer also forced three fumbles and had three sacks to lead an improved Bearcats defense.
Derek Wolfe, Cincinnati. Wolfe had a dominating performance on the defensive front this season, leading the Big East with 19.5 tackles for loss to rank No. 6 in the nation. He also had 9.5 sacks -- he had 10 sacks total coming into this season. Wolfe is a huge reason the Bearcats were able to get 43 sacks, tying for No. 1 in the country, and be so productive in rushing defense. Cincinnati gave up a season-low eight touchdowns on the ground.
If you have another preferred candidate, let me know in the comments section.