We continue our countdown of the top players in the Big East.
Up today: Ray Graham, RB, Pitt
Making the case: I am confident that Graham would have been in the top 5 of these rankings had he stayed healthy for the entire season. Though he only played seven full games, he still earns his spot in the top 10 because he was easily one of the best players in the Big East AND the best player on his team. Make an argument against that. At the time of his ACL injury against UConn, Graham was No. 2 in the nation in rushing, averaging 134 yards a game. Extrapolate that for 13 games, and Graham eclipses the 1,700-yard mark.
I got to see him dismantle USF to the tune of 226 yards. He was an unstoppable force that made the Bulls look silly at times. Graham was not only incredibly difficult to tackle when he was handed the ball out of the backfield, he was extremely valuable as a pass-catcher as well. He still finished third on the team with 30 receptions. Pitt was not exactly a fine-tuned machine while Graham was healthy, but without him there was no standout and the Panthers struggled to a 6-7 finish.
Preseason ranking: No. 8
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
No. 12 Najee Goode, LB, West Virginia
No. 11 Kendall Reyes, DT, UConn
No. 10 JK Schaffer, LB, Cincinnati
No. 9 Zach Collaros, QB, Cincinnati