Notre Dame 2012 Top 25 countdown: No. 6

No. 6 is one of the biggest surprises on offense.

No. 6: Theo Riddick, RB

Making the case: From running back to wide receiver and back to running back, Riddick seemed to be back in his comfort zone late in 2011, taking over the backfield hole left by Jonas Gray when the senior tore his ACL on Senior Day 2011. Then he took on the hybrid role of running back/slot receiver, and then his roommate and backfield mate Cierre Wood was suspended for the first two games of the season, leaving Riddick as the go-to guy in the backfield to start 2012. Riddick ended up having a senior year to remember, leading the Irish with 917 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 190 carries. His 36 catches were second-most on the team, as he delivered 360 receiving yards and two more touchdowns while split wide. He had four 100-yard rushing games, none bigger than his 146-yard output in the regular-season finale at USC, earning him the game ball from coach Brian Kelly, who later said that his tailback embodied the phrase "Fighting Irish." Riddick jumped on the radars of many with a strong final season, putting it all together and likely putting himself in position to get drafted into the NFL this April.

Preseason ranking: 8

The countdown

No. 7 Braxston Cave, C

No. 8 Kapron Lewis-Moore, DE

No. 9 Zeke Motta, S

No. 10 Prince Shembo, LB

No. 11 Danny Spond, LB

No. 12 T.J. Jones, WR

No. 13 Everett Golson, QB

No. 14 Cierre Wood, RB

No. 15 Bennett Jackson, CB

No. 16 Tommy Rees, QB

No. 17 DaVaris Daniels, WR

No. 18 Chris Watt, LG

No. 19 George Atkinson III, RB

No. 20 Dan Fox, LB

No. 21 Matthias Farley, S

No. 22 KeiVarae Russell, CB

No. 23 Robby Toma, WR

No. 24 Kyle Brindza, K

No. 25 Chris Brown, WR