2012 Big East top 25 countdown: No. 5

Top 5!

No. 5 Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

Making the case: I am sure there are a few of you out there who believe Bridgewater should be even higher on this list. He very well could be when the season ends. But for right now, I have a few questions that leave him here in the No. 5 spot. There is no question he has the potential to be the best player in the Big East, given what we saw last season. Bridgewater was the easy pick to win Big East newcomer of the year honors after taking over the starting job in Week 4 and throwing for 2,129 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Coaches have praised his maturity and his knowledge of the offense. He acts and plays like a veteran, not somebody who has only been around for a year. Bridgewater also has bulked up, which should help him better withstand some of the hits a scrambling quarterback can take. Now where does he take the next step? He has to be a better decision-maker, as his 12 interceptions in 2011 show. He took some sacks last season where he should have thrown the ball away instead. He looked harried in the bowl game when his protection broke down.

There are a few new elements to the offense that are going to provide a test, most specifically the installation of some hurry-up. He needs playmakers at receiver and running back to emerge, so the entire offense is not squarely on his shoulders. He also needs his offensive line to be better than it was a season ago. But the expectation is there for him to have a huge season. Bridgewater is on the watch lists for the Davey O'Brien Award (best quarterback) and Maxwell Award (best overall player) and is easily one of the most talked about players in the league going into the season.

The countdown

No. 6 Trevardo Williams, DE, UConn

No. 7 Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers

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