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The Big East's best: No. 17

Continuing 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. 17: Chris Neild, DT, West Virginia, Sr.

2009 numbers: Had 35 tackles and one interception.

Postseason ranking: Not ranked

Making the case for Neild: Stats can't really do justice to the value Neild brings to the Mountaineers. As the nose tackle in a three-man defensive front, he isn't asked to rack up big sack or tackle numbers, but to plug the gaps and occupy as many blockers as possible. And no one in the league does that job better.

I still remember the South Florida game last year when, on a short-yardage running play, the Bulls sent three guys at Neild and nearly bent him backwards. But Neild held his ground.

He's not only one of the keys to the West Virginia defense, but a team leader as well. He might not put up gaudy stats, but Neild deserves a place among the Big East's best.

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