- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Drum roll, please!
Now presenting: the Big East preseason Top 25 countdown! The slow summer months are in our rear-view mirror and now it is time to look ahead and project the best of the best in the league this season. The start of this countdown means we are oh so close to the start of actual games. We are counting down one player each week day, with No. 1 set to be unveiled on the morning of Aug. 31, just before the first football Saturday.
These lists are never easy to compile, and take many hours of number crunching and gazing into a Magic 8 ball. OK that second part is not true. But I am looking into the future and projecting the top 25 players by the end of the season. That means taking into consideration projected stats, and projected impact on his team. So keep that in mind when you are looking at these rankings.
I have to say, compiling these rankings proved to be especially difficult, with only nine players returning from the final 2011 Top 25. There are more unknowns in the league this year than there have been in the recent past. You could probably make the case for 35-40 players to be included. And the top 10 could easily go a number of different directions.
So there is a bit of an explainer. Now on to the countdown.
No. 25 Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse.
Making the case: Nassib took some heat last season because the Orange were not spectacular on offense. But he did have a career year, throwing for school single-season records with 2,685 yards passing and 259 completions. He also tied the school-record for touchdown passes in a year (22). What really impacted him were an inconsistent running game, inconsistent offensive line, and no real deep playing threat.
This season, Syracuse has a major question in the backfield with Antwon Bailey gone. But they are expecting a lot out of newcomer Ashton Broyld, and Jerome Smith and the return of Marcus Sales should really help the passing game. Coach Doug Marrone has vowed to change some of the offensive style to try and get more big plays going, along with more consistency. Having a senior quarterback in Nassib who has a good handle on how to lead his team should make that transition better. I am expecting Nassib to have his best season yet.