2013 Top 25 Player Countdown: No. 14

No. 14 returns after a freshman All-America campaign.

No. 14: KeiVarae Russell, CB

Previous ranking: No. 22

Making the case: Russell will have to hold off redshirt junior Lo Wood for the starting field corner spot this fall, but he is a year older and eight pounds heavier as he looks to build off a surprising first year as a starter. A running back recruit who was then thrust into a starting role in the secondary following Wood's preseason Achilles tear, Russell went on to notch 58 total tackles, including two for loss and half a sack, to go with two interceptions, two break-ups, four passes defended and one quarterback hurry. He is the Irish's third-leading returning tackler this season, and a player who did not lack for confidence going into Year 1. Having more than held his own against passing attacks like USC's and Oklahoma's last season, Russell will look to take the next step during his sophomore campaign and help Notre Dame have defensive success similar to last year's.

The countdown

No. 15 Christian Lombard

No. 16 Sheldon Day

No. 17 Carlo Calabrese

No. 18 Jarrett Grace

No. 19 Amir Carlisle

No. 20 Troy Niklas

No. 21 Elijah Shumate

No. 22 C.J. Prosise

No. 23 Ishaq Williams

No. 24 Kyle Brindza

No. 25 Greg Bryant