We are counting down the top 25 players in the Big East, one player at a time.
Up today: Bruce Irvin, DE, West Virginia.
Making the case: Irvin emerged as a force in 2010, with an amazing 14 sacks as a pass-rush specialist. Many anticipated bigger things in 2011, especially with his move into the starting lineup. But Irvin got off to a slow start and was particularly ineffective early in the season, as he had to fight off double teams and adjust to his new every-down role. West Virginia coaches smartly saw that and adjusted, pulling him out of the starting lineup. The result was a return of the Irvin of old.
Irvin had one sack in the first five games of the season; he had 7.5 in the final eight. He ended up fourth in the Big East in sacks, and made it onto the Big East first team. His huge sack and forced fumble on Cincinnati's Zach Collaros essentially changed the complexion of the Big East race. Then against Pitt, Irvin had seven tackles, a forced fumble and two sacks. He may not have had a repeat of 2011 in the stats column, but he was still one of the best in the Big East.
Preseason ranking: No. 5.
No. 25 Ryne Giddins, DE, USF
No. 24 Keith Tandy, CB, West Virginia
No. 23 Duron Harmon, S, Rutgers
No. 22 Antwon Bailey, RB, Syracuse
No. 21 Lyle McCombs, RB, UConn
No. 20 Dexter Heyman, LB, Louisville
No. 19 Hakeem Smith, S, Louisville
No. 18 Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers
No. 17 Aaron Donald, DE, Pitt
No. 16 Trevardo Williams, DE, UConn
No. 15 Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
No. 14 Julian Miller, DE, West Virginia