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Revised 2011 Top 25 countdown: No. 12

2/27/2012

We are counting down the top 25 players in the Big East, one player at a time.

Up today: Najee Goode, LB, West Virginia

Making the case: Ranking Goode at this position might surprise some folks, but I thought he was one of the most solid players in the Big East because he played consistently well from the start of the season to the end. Bruce Irvin, Julian Miller and Keith Tandy were inconsistent at various points throughout the year, but I thought Goode came to play every week. He led the team with 87 tackles, added five sacks and had 14 tackles for loss, just one behind Irvin. His game-saving forced fumble on B.J. Daniels against USF in the regular-season finale helped save the season and secure a BCS berth. Let's not forget his games against Pitt and Cincinnati, either, when he had three combined sacks and 16 total tackles.

Perhaps most important to keep in mind -- Goode played all three linebacker positions this season. He started the year in the middle, then had to move to the strong side when Doug Rigg got hurt, and finished the year at the weak side. His versatility made him an incredible asset. Couple that with his productivity, and you see why he was a first-team Big East selection and landed right here on my year-end list.

Preseason ranking: NR.

The countdown:

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

No. 15 Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse

No. 14 Julian Miller, DE, West Virginia

No. 13 Bruce Irvin, DE West Virginia