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The Big East's best: No. 8

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. 8: Robert Sands, S, West Virginia, Jr.

2009 numbers: Had 65 tackles, five interceptions, eight pass break-ups and one fumble recovery.

Postseason ranking: No. 12

Making the case for Sands: He first gained notice because of his unusual size, standing much taller than most defensive backs at 6-foot-5. But height isn't what separates Sands from the rest; instead, it's his ability.

As a sophomore, Sands emerged as a defensive star, leading the Big East in passes defended (13) and tying for the lead in interceptions. He improved in his pass coverage and tackling ability and was a force all over the field by the second half of the season.

With 18 starts under his belt, Sands should be even better in 2010. The Mountaineers are counting on him and Sidney Glover to anchor the defense and allow them to be more aggressive with blitzing. A big year could lead Sands to turn pro after this season. And NFL scouts will notice more than just his unusual height.

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

No. 17: Chris Neild, DT, West Virginia

No. 16: Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati

No. 15: J.T. Thomas, LB, West Virginia

No. 14: Jason Pinkston, OT, Pittsburgh

No. 13: Jock Sanders, WR, West Virginia

No. 12: Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers

No. 11: Lawrence Wilson, LB, Connecticut

No. 10: Armon Binns, WR, Cincinnati

No. 9: Jordan Todman, RB, Connecticut