Top 25 player countdown: No. 16

No. 16. Prince Shembo, OLB

2011 numbers: Shembo started eight of 12 games last season as a sophomore, missing the Week 3 contest against Michigan State after his father, Maurice, suffered a brain aneurysm. (He made a successful recovery.) Shembo recorded 31 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and two quarterback hurries in 2011.

Making the case for Shembo: Few players on the Irish roster can match the athleticism of the 6-foot-2, 250-pound Shembo, who is moving from the dog to the cat, where his pass-rushing ability should be on display even more. Spring surgery (toe) for Shembo allowed Ishaq Williams to receive a majority of the reps there, and the rise of the sophomore should only push Shembo, who is replacing Darius Fleming.