We are counting down the top 25 players in the Big East, one player at a time.
Up today: Julian Miller, DL, West Virginia
Making the case: Miller started the season slowly because of an injured ankle, and he also was transitioning to playing more of an inside role. What really got him his spot on this list was the way he played in the final stretch of the season, as the Mountaineers clawed their way back to a BCS bowl berth. The defense was spotty at the beginning of the year but great at the end and Miller was a big reason why. Here is what he did in the final three critical games:
Against Cincinnati, Miller had seven tackles, and scored a touchdown on the most critical play of the year -- when Zach Collaros was sacked and fumbled in the end zone. Against Pitt, Miller had a career-high four sacks and 12 tackles; and against USF, he had four tackles, two for loss, and a pass breakup. On the year, he finished with six sacks and tied for a league high with three fumble recoveries. He forced two fumbles himself. His stats may not be earth shattering, but his value and importance to the team cannot be underestimated, and helped transform the Big East race.
Preseason ranking: No. 17.
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
No. 21 Lyle McCombs, RB, UConn
No. 20 Dexter Heyman, LB, Louisville
No. 19 Hakeem Smith, S, Louisville
No. 18 Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers
No. 17 Aaron Donald, DE, Pitt
No. 16 Trevardo Williams, DE, UConn
No. 15 Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse