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The Big East's best: No. 18

Returning to our countdown of the Top 25 Big East players from 2010, based on on-field performance last year ...

No. 18

Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati, Jr.

Preseason rank: 16

2010 numbers: Carried 157 times for 1,029 yards and six touchdowns. Also caught 26 passes for 190 yards and a score.

Making the case for Pead: There were times when Pead looked like one of the best running backs in the nation, not just the Big East. He burned Oklahoma for 169 yards on just 21 attempts. He had 197 yards against Miami (Ohio) and 145 versus Louisville. And then there was the epic, 213-yard, five-touchdown game against Rutgers.

Pead crossed 1,000 yards for the first time in his career and led Big East starting tailbacks with a 6.6 yards-per-carry average. OK, you say, then why isn't he higher on this list? It's simply because Pead was very up and down during the season. He had those huge games mentioned earlier, but he also had four contests in which he compiled fewer than 50 rushing yards (all of which ended in losses), and he missed two additional games because of injury. That's half the season where he really didn't make much of an impact, and he did his work on a 4-8 team.

But Pead is the leading returning rusher in the Big East in 2011, and if he can maintain consistency, he could be ready for a huge senior campaign.

Previously

No. 25: Zach Hurd, OG, Connecticut

No. 24: Dave Teggart, K, Connecticut

No. 23: Derrell Smith, LB, Syracuse

No. 22: J.T. Thomas, LB, West Virginia

No. 21: Johnny Patrick, CB, Louisville

No. 20: Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh

No. 19: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia