An early look at All-Big East team candidates

We've got two weeks left in the season, though two Big East teams -- Louisville and Syracuse -- wrap up their 2009 this weekend.

The end of the season also means it's time to start thinking about who will make the All-Big East team. Here's an early look at who I think should and should not make the team at each position:


Raise your hand if you thought Pitt's Bill Stull would be the Big East's first-team quarterback this year. Heck, most people thought he'd lose his job. But he's leading the league in passing yards, passing touchdowns and passing efficiency -- all by a large margin. Had Tony Pike stayed healthy or Zach Collaros played a full year, we might be talking about them here. But they didn't, so it's an easy choice.

Running back

Dion Lewis is a shoo-in. The second running back spot on the team will likely belong to Noel Devine. But he's been slowed lately, mostly due to injuries. If that continues, there's a chance that UConn's Jordan Todman or Andre Dixon could slip onto the first team. Combine the two Huskies, and they've produced exactly 1,800 rushing yards.


Mardy Gilyard and Tim Brown are the choices here for now, though you could make a strong argument for Jonathan Baldwin. If Baldwin has a big two final games, perhaps he'll earn a spot on the first team. Jock Sanders has had a great year as well. Mike Williams looked like a lock before he quit Syracuse.

Tight end

No doubt about it, Pitt's Dorin Dickerson -- a Mackey Award finalist -- gets the nod. His teammate, Nate Byham, might be the second-team tight end.

Offensive line

This is always the most difficult position to single out players, because offensive line play is not easy to evaluate from the outside. My two tackles at this point would be Cincinnati's Jeff Linkenbach and Pitt's Jason Pinkston. Rutgers left tackle Anthony Davis is the best pro prospect, but he's been far too inconsistent. Pitt's John Malecki is another lock at guard. The other two spots are less obvious. Perhaps Zach Hurd from UConn at guard and Chris Jurek from Cincinnati or UConn's Moe Petrus at center. This is one where I'll have to pick some coaches' brains to decipher.

Defensive line

You might be shocked at the one guy who's not on my list here: South Florida's George Selvie. I think his opposite end, Jason Pierre-Paul, has had the better year. I'd put Greg Romeus at the other end, along with his Pitt teammate Mick Williams at one defensive tackle. The other defensive tackle is up for grabs; I think I'd vote for West Virginia's Chris Neild in a tight one over Syracuse's Arthur Jones.


A lot of players have strong cases here. My three, at this point, would have to be USF's Kion Wilson, UConn's Lawrence Wilson and Louisville's Jon Dempsey. That's leaving off a lot of really good players, including Pitt's Adam Gunn and Syracuse's Derrell Smith.


Cincinnati's Aaron Webster and USF's Nate Allen are my safeties, hands down. Devin McCourty is clearly a first-team cornerback. The other cornerback spot is debatable; right now, I'd probably pick Pitt's Aaron Berry, who's coming on strong at the end of the year.


The clubhouse leaders are Pitt's Dan Hutchins at place-kicker, West Virginia's Scott Kozlowski at punter, Gilyard as punt returner and Louisville's Trent Guy as kick returner.

This early ballot leaves off several players I had ticketed for first-team honors in the preseason, including Selvie, Jones, West Virginia's Reed Williams, Rutgers' Ryan D'Imperio and others. But there's still time for performances to sway my picks, and I plan on getting a lot of input on my choices before picking a final team.

Now I want your input. Agree or disagree with these selections? Let's hear it.