- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Drum roll, please!
We have come to the end of the Big East preseason top 25 countdown, where I have tried my best to predict who will end up as the top league players at the end of the season. Without further adieu, here is my choice for No. 1.
No. 1 Khaseem Greene, LB, Rutgers
Twitter handle: @Khas_Greene20
Making the case: Khaseem Greene was a revelation last season. I think everybody across the league would tell you that, even Rutgers fans. When former coach Greg Schiano called Greene into his office last spring and told him he was moving from safety to outside linebacker, Greene was lukewarm to the move, to say the least. But after a week of practice, Greene began to understand why Schiano made the switch.
As he got better at the position, he realized he could make a much bigger impact at linebacker. Boy, did he ever. Greene led the Big East with a career-high 141 tackles, to rank No. 12 in the nation, while adding 14.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. He nearly doubled his tackle total from 2010, en route to Co-Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors.
When asked to reflect on the move Schiano made, Greene said, "I actually didn't want to move to linebacker, and coach had the ultimate vision and he knew, he saw something in me that I didn't see in myself. After that first week of practice, I started to see what coach saw and it worked out for the better. ... I really grew into that position and I really began to love it."
Greene spent the offseason rehabbing his broken ankle, but has participated in preseason camp and is completely healthy. With that injury behind him, I think Greene is the most complete player in the entire Big East, with the credentials to back that up. He leads all Big East players with four watch list appearances (Bednarik Award, Butkus Award, Lombardi Award, Nagurski Trophy).
But he can be better. Just ask coach Kyle Flood.
"Now that he has another year in the system at the position, we really should see improvements," Flood said.
No. 2 Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt
No. 3 Ray Graham, RB, Pitt
No. 4 B.J. Daniels, QB, USF
No. 5 Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
No. 6 Trevardo Williams, DE, UConn
No. 7 Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers
No. 8 Hakeem Smith, S, Louisville
No. 9 Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse
No. 10 Lyle McCombs, RB, UConn
No. 11 Ryne Giddins, DE, USF
No. 12 Montel Harris, RB, Temple
No. 13 DeDe Lattimore, LB, USF
No. 14 Sio Moore, LB, UConn
No. 15 Walter Stewart, DE, Cincinnati
No. 16 Duron Harmon, S, Rutgers
No. 17 Mario Benavides, C, Louisville
No. 18 Jarred Holley, S, Pitt
No. 19 Scott Vallone, NT, Rutgers
No. 20 Ryan Griffin, TE, UConn
No. 21 Adrian Bushell, CB, Louisville
No. 22 Alec Lemon, WR, Syracuse
No. 23 Steve Beauharnais, LB, Rutgers
No. 24 Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, UConn
No. 25 Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse