2012 Big East top 25 countdown: No. 3

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. 3 Ray Graham, RB, Pitt

Twitter handle: @raygraham1

Making the case: If Graham was completely healthy, he would be the No. 1 player on this list. But as I have said a few times this week, there really is no telling how good Graham is going to be this year. If preseason practices are any indication, then we may not see as much of Graham as we initially thought we would at the outset of the season. Maybe our expectations for him were too high, as a running back coming off major knee surgery in less than a year.

But I think we all remember how good Graham is, given what he did to start last season. So do college football observers, who have him on preseason watch lists for the Doak Walker Award (best running back), Maxwell Award (best player) and Walter Camp Award (best player). If he returns anywhere near that form at some point during the season, then it is a safe bet that everybody will be calling him one of the best players in the Big East. If not the best player in the Big East.

So with this ranking, I am banking on the Graham of old showing up at some point this season. At this point, it looks like a risky proposition but the football season is long and Graham is determined.

The countdown

No. 4 B.J. Daniels, QB, USF

No. 5 Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

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