Top 25 player countdown: No. 9

No. 9. Kenny Tate, LB, Maryland

2010 stats: He started all 13 games at free safety last year and led the Terps in solo tackles (58) and was second in tackles (100). He had at least six tackles in all but one game and ranked seventh in the ACC with 7.7 per game. He was the second-leading tackler in the ACC among defensive backs. He tied for third in the ACC in solo tackles (4.6 pg) and led the ACC with four forced fumbles, the most by a Terp since Milton Harris had four in 2005. His 0.31 forced fumbles per-game ranked tied for 15th in the FBS.

Previous ranking: No. 14.

Making the case for Tate: He posted some ridiculous numbers as a safety, and he should flourish even more in his new hybrid linebacker/safety position. He has an impressive combination of size and speed. He ranks first on the team among returnees in career tackles (162) and interceptions (5), and he’s also one of the top tacklers in the conference. He became the first Maryland defensive back to reach 100 tackles since Tony Jackson (101) in 2000.

No. 10 David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech

No. 11 Dwight Jones, WR, North Carolina

No. 12 Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

No. 13 Brandon Washington, OL, Miami

No. 14 Danny O'Brien, QB, Maryland

No. 15 Sean Renfree, QB, Duke

No. 16 Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia

No. 17 Cam Johnson, DE, Virginia

No. 18 Greg Reid, CB, Florida State

No. 19 Ray-Ray Armstrong, S, Miami

No. 20 Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

No. 21 Conner Vernon, WR, Duke

No. 22 Jarrett Boykin, WR, Virginia Tech

No. 23 Omoregie Uzzi, OG, Georgia Tech

No. 24 Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson

No. 25 EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State