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The Big East's best: No. 1

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.

Previously:

No. 25: Zach Hurd, OG, Connecticut

No. 24: Derrell Smith, LB, Syracuse

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