Today I ask you: Who will be Big East Defensive Player of the Year?
This is a tough category for me because the Big East is much stronger defensively than offensively. These are my top four candidates. Please feel free to write in your favorite.
Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt. Donald had 11 sacks last year to rank among the Top 10 in the nation, but he slides inside this season in a return to the 4-3 scheme. That good news is that Donald is the most experienced lineman returning for the Panthers. But he also may be the subject of more double teams than a season ago, when he emerged on the scene. Pitt always has a standout on the defensive front, and this season is no exception.
Khaseem Greene, LB, Rutgers. I think Greene goes into the year as the preseason favorite, having won Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2011 with 140 total tackles. He is expected to be ready for the season after getting hurt in the bowl game. The big question is whether he will be impacted at all with Greg Schiano gone. Schiano called the plays last season and was a huge reason why Greene had a breakout year.
Walter Stewart, DE, Cincinnati. Stewart is my under-the-radar candidate for this season. Coach Butch Jones has raved about Stewart since the end of spring practice, and right now I am buying what he's selling. With so much experience gone from the inside of the line, I think Stewart has a great opportunity to make some noise on the outside.
Trevardo Williams, DE, UConn. It is hard to leave off a player who led the Big East with 12.5 sacks a season ago. Williams' speed off the edge really made him a menace for the opposition. Now, he has to take the next step and show the game-to-game consistency that he lacked last season.
Ryne Giddins, DE, USF
DeDe Lattimore, LB, USF
Sio Moore, LB, UConn
Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers
Hakeem Smith, S, Louisville
Marquis Spruill, LB, Syracuse