Preseason 2012 Top 25 countdown: No. 23

Time to move on in our preseason countdown of the Top 25 players in the Big East.

If you need a quick refresher, I am projecting the best of the best in the league for this upcoming season, and I am including freshmen and transfers as well.

No. 23 Steve Beauharnais, LB, Rutgers

Making the case: Most of the national attention in the Rutgers linebacker group has gone to Khaseem Greene, for obvious reasons. He had a breakout season in 2011 thanks to a savvy position switch, and won Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors after making 141 tackles. But the player right in the middle of the defense had a pretty under-the-radar season and I believe will be even better this year.

Steve Beauharnais finished second on the team with 77 tackles after making his own position switch, back to middle linebacker. He was extremely productive behind the line of scrimmage, leading the team with 16 tackles for loss to rank in the Top 10 in the Big East, while also finishing second on the team with five sacks. Not to mention, he also had three interceptions.

Beauharnais is a big reason why the Rutgers defense was able to be as aggressive as coach Greg Schiano wanted last season. He epitomized the relentless pursuit the football that Schiano hammered into his defensive players. Beauharnais just didn’t get a lot of pub because of Greene, but as the man in the middle of the defense, he makes sure everything works the right way. In a very deep and talented Big East linebacker group, Beauharnais should be among the best with another year under his belt.

The countdown

No. 24 Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, UConn

No. 25 Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse