Preseason 2012 top 25 countdown: No. 17

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. 17 Mario Benavides, C, Louisville

Twitter handle: @supermariob55

Making the case: If you did not know how valuable Mario Benavides was to the Louisville offensive line, the first three games from last season probably told you. With Benavides out because of a knee injury, the Cardinals played poorly up front with young, inexperienced players leading the way. Once Benavides returned, the Cardinals had steady improvement the rest of the way in the regular season. Said offensive coordinator Shawn Watson: "He's the thump in our voice offensively. If something needs to get fixed on the field, he'll fix it."

Going into this year, many believe Louisville has one of the better offensive lines in the league and a big reason why is Benavides, going into his fourth year as a starter. Benavides has started all 34 games he has played in, missing just four because of injuries. He is incredibly smart, and is now playing at 280 pounds, which should help with his quickness and burst. Benavides also has been named to the watch lists for the Rimington Trophy, (best center), Lombardi Award (best lineman) and Outland Trophy (best interior lineman).

The countdown

No. 18 Jarred Holley, S, Pitt

No. 19 Scott Vallone, NT, Rutgers

No. 20 Ryan Griffin, TE, UConn

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