Top 25 player countdown: No. 9

No. 9. Braxston Cave, C

2011 numbers: The 6-foot-3, 304-pound Cave started the season's first nine games in the middle before suffering a season-ending foot injury at Wake Forest. Cave was a rock in the middle, having started 22 straight games before the injury.

Making the case for Cave: Cave is a fifth-year senior who has been around the block. He appears to be fully recovered from his foot injury after seeing limited time in the spring. Notre Dame's offensive line returns three starters in the same position from last season -- and four players with starting experience -- and figures to be one of the team's strengths. Cave, who is on the preseason Watch List for the Outland Trophy, has appeared in 35 games and is one of the unit's, and team's, biggest leaders.