- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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We're approaching the top five in the Big East postseason player rankings, and you can probably figure out which five players those are without much trouble, if not the exact order.
So what about those who just missed the cut? Making a list of just 30 players across an eight-team league means some really good players have to be left off. Let's start with a look at those on my preseason list who failed to duplicate the honor in the postseason:
No. 3: Matt Grothe: A terrific career, obviously, but the South Florida quarterback's season was cut down by a knee injury before it ever really got going, and his pro potential is questionable at best.
No. 7: Victor Anderson: Another guy who's season was hampered by injury. Anderson posted only 473 rushing yards for Louisville, though he remains capable of big things in the next two years.
No. 10: Reed Williams: The West Virginia linebacker could have easily made this list, as he's not only an excellent player but a terrific leader. Just missed because he, too, was limited at times because of injuries.
No. 11: Ryan D'Imperio: The Rutgers linebacker wasn't nearly as productive as he had been, with his tackles dipping down to 76. But he wasn't fully healthy either.
No. 12: Scott Lutrus: Starting to sound like a broken record here. The Huskies linebacker missed huge chunks of time with various injuries and was surpassed on this list by teammate Lawrence Wilson. But he'll be a prominent preseason candidate for top 30 designation.
No. 15: Aaron Berry: The Pitt corner had a solid but not spectacular season.
No. 16: Robert Vaughn: The UConn safety dropped because of a poor overall performance by the Huskies' secondary.
No. 17: Scooter Berry: The West Virginia tackle missed significant time with injuries and a suspension.
No 19: Scott Long: My most controversial preseason pick had the misfortune of playing for a bad offense. But the Louisville receiver did get an NFL combine invite.
No. 21: Jessie Hester: The South Florida wideout struggled with injuries for much of 2009 and never regained his '08 form.
No. 22: Ryan Blaszczyk: The Rutgers offensive line disappointed, dragging its center's ranking down with it.
No. 24: Brandon Hogan: Improved as season went on; could easily make the preseason list this summer.
No. 25: Mike Williams: Was arguably the league's top receiver for half the year. But you don't quit your team midseason and expect to make a list of the league's best.
No. 27: Jock Sanders: A tough, tough omission from the list, especially considering he had 72 catches for West Virginia. What decided it for me was that he averaged fewer than 10 yards per catch and had only three touchdowns, and his production took a nosedive late in the season.
No. 29: Jon Dempsey: Had a fine year (107 tackles), but it was hard to tell by the end of the season whether he or Chris Campa was Louisville's best linebacker. No Cardinals made the postseason top 30, which gives you an idea of the challenge facing Charlie Strong.
No. 30: Moe Petrus: The UConn center was part of a terrific line, but Chris Jurek and Sampson Genus edged him out for the first- and second-team All-Big East center positions as voted by the coaches.
OK, now that we've exposed how far off my preseason list was, here are a few other players who barely missed the postseason cut:
Zach Collaros, QB, Cincinnati: An interesting decision here. He was outstanding in less than half a season's worth of work, including a record-breaking performance against UConn. And his potential is off the charts. Probably should have included him, but I just felt he didn't play enough in 2009. He'll definitely be on the preseason list, and probably awfully high.
Zach Hurd, UConn, and John Malecki, Pitt: Two of the best guards in the league, a position which sadly wasn't represented on this list. Guards are like the Rodney Dangerfield of football.
J.T. Thomas, West Virginia, and Adam Gunn, Pitt: Excellent linebackers in a league that's stacked at that position.
Armon Binns, WR, Cincinnati: He was at times the Bearcats' best weapon when defenses concentrated on Mardy Gilyard. You wonder how much the system inflates the stats of receivers. Binns, though, will surely appear on the summer list.
Chris Neild, NT, West Virginia: I thought he was one of the top two or three interior linemen in the league. Just missed.
I'm sure I'm failing to mention other worthy candidates, but I've already gone on and on long enough. Sound off on other players you think should have made it, or why I'm crazy for not including some of these on the list.