Preseason 2012 Top 25 countdown: No. 20

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. 20 Ryan Griffin, TE, UConn

Making the case: There have been some pretty outstanding tight ends to play in the Big East. Griffin is no doubt the next line, after strong performances the last three seasons have him on the preseason watch list for the Mackey Award, given annually to the best tight end. Griffin had his best season yet in 2011, finishing third on the team with 33 catches for 499 yards and three touchdowns. In fact, Griffin is the top leading receiver returning to the Huskies this year in all three categories.

The type of pro-style offense UConn likes to play should allow Griffin to thrive once again in 2012. UConn lost its top two wide receivers (although Michael Smith and Shakim Phillips do have playing time), so Griffin should be counted on to come up with clutch catches. The Huskies also return 1,000-yard rusher Lyle McCombs, so Griffin will no doubt be utilized to help clear holes for McCombs as he continues to work on his blocking skills. His size (6-6, 247 pounds) makes him an ideal tight end for this offense, and a clear favorite as a player to watch this season.

The countdown

No. 21 Adrian Bushell, CB, Louisville

No. 22 Alec Lemon, WR, Syracuse

No. 23 Steve Beauharnais, LB, Rutgers

No. 24 Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, UConn

No. 25 Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse