Preseason 2012 top 25 countdown: No. 7

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.

No. 7 Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers

Making the case: Ryan emerged as a shutdown cornerback last year in his first season as a starter, leading the league with 16 passes defended -- 13 breakups and three interceptions en route to being selected to the Big East second team. He ended the year with a terrific performance in the bowl game against Iowa State, with seven tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one interception and half a sack.

He should be even better this year, and now everybody knows who he is. Ryan made preseason watch lists for the Bednarik Award (best defensive player) and Thorpe Award (best defensive back) and anchors one of the strongest secondaries in the entire Big East. I think he is the best cornerback in the league and will prove why in 2012.

The countdown

No. 8 Hakeem Smith, S, Louisville

No. 9 Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse

No. 10 Lyle McCombs, RB, UConn

No. 11 Ryne Giddins, DE, USF

No. 12 Montel Harris, RB, Temple

No. 13 DeDe Lattimore, LB, USF

No. 14 Sio Moore, LB, UConn

No. 15 Walter Stewart, DE, Cincinnati

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