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The Big East's best: No. 3, Noel Devine

A postseason ranking of the Big East's Top 30 players ...

No. 3

Devine

DevineNoel Devine, RB, West Virginia, Jr.

Preseason rank: 4

Why him here: If you needed someone to break off a big, game-changing run, you couldn't find a better man for the job than Devine.

The star tailback had an astounding seven runs of 56 yards or more in 2009, including an 88-yard touchdown against Pittsburgh and a 56-yard score against UConn that basically won both of those games. Of course, the speedy Devine always had the ability to outrun defenders when given a little bit of daylight; what made him even better in 2009 was his willingness to stay patient behind his blocks and settle for the three- to four-yard gain, instead of trying to take everything to the house with risky cutback moves. That's why he finished with a career-best 1,465 yards and 13 touchdowns, averaging a whopping 6.1 yards per carry.

And he did that despite being hampered late in the year by an ankle injury. West Virginia fans were thrilled to learn that he decided to return to Morgantown for his senior year instead of going to the NFL. With a full season of health, there's no reason to think he won't make a run at 1,700 yards or even more this season.

Though only listed at 5-foot-8, he's amazingly sturdy at 176 pounds and is by no means easy to take down. He'll make some NFL team happy when he does join the league in 2011. For now, the Mountaineers -- and the Big East -- are lucky to have his game-breaking skills around for another season.

Previous:

No. 4: Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh

No. 5: Greg Romeus, DE, Pittsburgh

No. 6: Tony Pike, QB, Cincinnati

No. 7: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida

No. 8: Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers

No. 9: Mick Williams, DT, Pittsburgh

No. 10: Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers

No. 11: Dorin Dickerson, TE, Pittsburgh

No. 12: Robert Sands, S, West Virginia

No. 13: B.J. Daniels, QB, South Florida

No. 14: Jason Pinkston, OT, Pittsburgh

No. 15: Tim Brown, WR, Rutgers

No. 16: Jordan Todman, RB, Connecticut

No. 17: Arthur Jones, DT, Syracuse

No. 18: Lawrence Wilson, LB, Connecticut

No. 19: Tom Savage, QB, Rutgers

No. 20: Andre Dixon, RB, Connecticut

No. 21: Bill Stull, QB, Pittsburgh

No. 22: Nate Allen, S, South Florida

No. 23: Marcus Easley, WR, Connecticut

No. 24: Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers

No. 25: Jarrett Brown, QB, West Virginia

No. 26: George Selvie, DE, South Florida

No. 27: Kion Wilson, LB, South Florida

No. 28: Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh

No. 29: Lindsey Witten, DE, Connecticut

No. 30: Jeff Linkenbach, OT, Cincinnati