Noted college football guru Phil Steele has come out with his definitive list of returning starters for 2013 for every team in the country.
No surprise to see Louisville at the top of the list, though I think the number of starters the Cardinals have returning is higher than the 15 Steele lists. I have been going with a slightly higher number, 17, because I am counting receiver Damian Copeland and linebacker James Burgess as returning starters.
Things can get tricky when doing these tallies. How many starts qualifies somebody as a returning starter? In my methodology, a player must start more than half of a season's worth of games to be listed as a returning starter. That's why I have Louisville with slightly more.
Anyway, here are the 10 teams scheduled to be in the Big East for 2013 and how they stack up in this category, from most returning starters to fewest, according to Steele.
Note: Kicker/punter Brandon McManus is gone -- huge loss. Steele also is counting Chris Coyer as a returning starter, but expect the quarterback competition to be open in the spring. Running backs Montel Harris and Matt Brown are big losses as well.
Note: The defending C-USA East division champs have to replace their punter. Other key losses include running back Latavius Murray, offensive lineman Jordan Rae, defensive lineman Troy Davis and cornerback Kemal Ishmael -- all C-USA first team selections.
Note: Rutgers has to replace its punter. Key losses are huge on the defense: linebackers Khaseem Greene and Steve Beauharnais, defensive tackle Scott Vallone and cornerback Logan Ryan, along with leading rusher Jawan Jamison.