Wrapping up the countdown of the top 25 players in the Big East for 2010, taking into account past performance and potential for this coming season ...
No. 1: Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh, So.
2009 numbers: Carried 325 times for 1,799 yards and 17 touchdowns. Caught 25 passes for 189 yards and one touchdown.
Postseason ranking: No. 1
Making the case for Lewis: What more can be said about Lewis, the Big East's reigning Offensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year? He finished third nationally in rushing in 2009, and only Stanford's Toby Gerhart had more rushing attempts than Lewis's 325. Pitt's star didn't just pile up yards in garbage time, either; he was at his best in big games, like his 47-carry, 194-yard showing against Cincinnati, or his 167-yard output against North Carolina's talented defense in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
It's a fun debate between Lewis and Noel Devine for the top spot on this list. But the criteria was past performance -- and nobody had a better 2009 in the Big East than Lewis -- and potential for this season. With Lewis being only a true sophomore, there's every reason to believe he'll get better in many facets this year, including blitz pickup and catching the ball out of the backfield. Expecting the same or better numbers as last year may be too much, since the Panthers offensive line has some question marks and teammate Ray Graham figures to get a few more carries this year.
But Lewis has done everything any reasonable person could ask out of a headliner for a list like this. He's earned the title of the Big East's best player.
No. 25: Zach Hurd, OG, Connecticut
No. 23: Tino Sunseri, QB, Pittsburgh
No. 22: Delone Carter, RB, Syracuse
No. 21: Steve Beauharnais, LB, Rutgers
No. 20: Vidal Hazelton, WR, Cincinnati
No. 19: Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh
No. 18: Scott Lutrus, LB, Connecticut
No. 17: Chris Neild, DT, West Virginia
No. 16: Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati
No. 15: J.T. Thomas, LB, West Virginia
No. 14: Jason Pinkston, OT, Pittsburgh
No. 13: Jock Sanders, WR, West Virginia
No. 12: Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
No. 11: Lawrence Wilson, LB, Connecticut
No. 10: Armon Binns, WR, Cincinnati
No. 9: Jordan Todman, RB, Connecticut
No. 8: Robert Sands, S, West Virginia
No. 7: Tom Savage, QB, Rutgers
No. 6: B.J. Daniels, QB, South Florida
No. 5: Zach Collaros, QB, Cincinnati
No. 4: Greg Romeus, DE, Pittsburgh
No. 3: Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
No. 2: Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia