Preseason 2012 top 25 countdown: No. 18

Time to move on in our preseason countdown of the top 25 players in the Big East.

If you need a quick refresher, I am projecting the best of the best in the league for this upcoming season, and I am including freshmen and transfers as well.

No. 18 Jarred Holley, S, Pitt

Making the case: You want consistency? Go watch Holley play. He has made an indelible mark in the Pitt secondary as he goes into his fourth year as a starter. Last season was his best, as Holley made the Big East first team after finishing second on the team with 67 tackles, with five tackles for loss, two sacks, three pass breakups, one interception and a forced fumble. While the Pitt secondary struggled at the start of the year with a new defensive scheme, Holley did his best to stabilize the group.

Now this year, Holley leads what appears to be the strongest part of the Pitt defense. Safety is a particular area of strength. National observers have taken notice of what Holley has done, as he is on the preseason watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the top defensive back in college football. Holley also is on the watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, given to the top defensive player in the nation.

The countdown

No. 19 Scott Vallone, NT, Rutgers

No. 20 Ryan Griffin, TE, UConn

No. 21 Adrian Bushell, CB, Louisville

No. 22 Alec Lemon, WR, Syracuse

No. 23 Steve Beauharnais, LB, Rutgers

No. 24 Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, UConn

No. 25 Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse