We have finally arrived at the Top 10 of our countdown of the best players in the Big East. Without further adieu ...
At No. 10: JK Schaffer, LB, Cincinnati
Making the case: Schaffer was a tackling machine once again, though that should come as little surprise. He has been perhaps the best tackler in the Big East for the last several seasons now. In 2012, he eclipsed the 100-tackle mark for the third straight season, finishing third in the league with 114 while making the Big East first team yet again. But it was more than his tackling prowess that was impressive this season.
Schaffer was the heart of the unit, and became the center of a defensive rejuvenation that caught everybody's attention. Cincinnati was the most improved defense in the Big East this past season, and Schaffer did his part to make it that way. Not only did he have his usual tackles for loss (13), he had nine passes defended -- tied for the best among linebackers -- along with three forced fumbles and 4.5 sacks. It was the most well-rounded season of his illustrious career.
Preseason ranking: No. 11.
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
No. 14 Julian Miller, DE, West Virginia
No. 13 Bruce Irvin, DE West Virginia
No. 12 Najee Goode, LB, West Virginia
No. 11 Kendall Reyes, DT, UConn