We are counting down the top 25 players in the Big East, one player at a time.
Up today: Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse.
Making the case: We are left to wonder just how good a season Jones could have had if he had stayed healthy the entire way. It is a testament to his value on the team that he still made the Big East first team despite missing five games. His first game back against West Virginia ranks as one of the best individual defensive performances of the entire season. Jones was unstoppable, tying a career high with two sacks, finishing third on the team with six tackles and even breaking up a pass. The lasting image from that upset win is Jones forcing Geno Smith to run for his life.
Jones finished the season with 4.5 sacks, 7.5 hurries and two forced fumbles in just seven games. Injuries are obviously part of the game, but I tried not to let that influence the rankings too much. Jones rightfully deserves his spot as one of the better linemen in the Big East, even with the time away.
Preseason ranking: No. 18.
No. 25 Ryne Giddins, DE, USF
No. 24 Keith Tandy, CB, West Virginia
No. 23 Duron Harmon, S, Rutgers
No. 22 Antwon Bailey, RB, Syracuse
No. 21 Lyle McCombs, RB, UConn
No. 20 Dexter Heyman, LB, Louisville
No. 19 Hakeem Smith, S, Louisville
No. 18 Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers
No. 17 Aaron Donald, DE, Pitt
No. 16 Trevardo Williams, DE, UConn