We are counting down the top-25 players in the Big East, one player at a time.
Up today: Lyle McCombs, RB, UConn.
Making the case: Going into the season, much more was made about whether USC transfer D.J. Shoemate could pick up where Jordan Todman left off and carry the rushing load. But it was redshirt freshman McCombs who stepped up when Shoemate was forced to sit out the season with an injury.
Even though teams keyed on stopping the run, McCombs was second in the Big East in rushing with 1,151 yards -- the ninth-highest single-season total in school history and the second among freshmen at UConn. He added seven touchdown runs, and had six 100-yard rushing games. McCombs actually led the league in rushing at the end of the regular season, but Isaiah Pead overtook him with a good bowl performance. For his efforts, McCombs was a second-team All-Big East selection, and also ranked No. 3 in the Big East in all-purpose yards.
Preseason ranking: NR.
No. 25 Ryne Giddins, DE, USF
No. 24 Keith Tandy, CB, West Virginia
No. 23 Duron Harmon, S, Rutgers
No. 22 Antwon Bailey, RB, Syracuse