Preseason 2012 top 25 countdown: No. 15

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. 15 Walter Stewart, DE, Cincinnati

Making the case: All you need to know about Walter Stewart is the highlight play of his career, in the regular-season finale against UConn that clinched a third Big East title in four seasons for the Bearcats. You have probably all seen the play, but just as a refresher -- Stewart essentially took the ball out of UConn quarterback Johnny McEntee's hands in the end zone, and scored a touchdown. Tenacious, aggressive and strong, Stewart should have an even better year in 2012.

Coach Butch Jones has heaped lavish praise on Stewart, going into his second year playing defensive end. As one of the key returning starters up front, Stewart will be expected to bump up his sack total (he had six last year) and put more pressure on the quarterback. Jones has said Stewart is the best leader he has ever been around and expects a huge season out of his senior. Could he follow the same path as Derek Wolfe, a surprise Big East Co-Defensive Player of the Year winner?

The countdown

No. 16 Duron Harmon, S, Rutgers

No. 17 Mario Benavides, C, Louisville

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