Big East year-end rankings: Defensive line

December, 18, 2008
12/18/08
6:00
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

My year-end positional rankings now switch to the defensive side, starting up front with the defensive linemen. It's a tough task ranking these as individual players because there were a lot of strong defenders in the Big East trenches this season and because the end and tackle jobs are so different. But here's my best shot:

1. George Selvie, DE, South Florida: Forget that his stats were down this season. Selvie is still the most feared presence up front and the one who commands the most attention. When he was fully healthy this year, he was a demon.

2. Cody Brown, DE, Connecticut: Brown had a strong case for being Big East defensive player of the year for the way he terrorized quarterbacks both through sacks and batting passes down.

3. Connor Barwin, DE, Cincinnati: In just his first year of playing defense, Barwin proved a quick study, leading the league in sacks.

4. Arthur Jones, DT, Syracuse: Probably the best interior lineman in the Big East, Jones has the strength and athleticism to succeed in the NFL.

5. Jamaal Westerman, DE, Rutgers: Westerman finished tied for third in the Big East in sacks, and when you consider that he played nearly half the year with a torn biceps, that's even more impressive.

6. Terrill Byrd, DT, Cincinnati: An All-American last year, Byrd got off to a slow start this year because of an early suspension. But he was back to being his dominant self by the end of the season.

7. Greg Romeus, DE, Pittsburgh: This guy is so athletic and talented, and the scary thing is he hasn't been playing football all that long.

8. Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh: You know what else is scary? Sheard and Romeus still have two years of eligibility remaining.

9. Scooter Berry, DT, West Virginia: Originally viewed as a throw-in to help the Mountaineers recruit Jason Gwaltney, Berry has developed into a star long after Gwaltney fell off the map.

10. Earl Heyman, DT, Louisville: A non-stop motor and work ethic helped Heyman be the most consistent defensive player for the Cardinals the past two seasons.

Honorable mention: Jarriett Buie, South Florida; Rashaad Duncan and Mick Williams, Pittsburgh; Julius Williams, UConn; Pete Tverdov, Rutgers; Lamonte Nelms, Cincinnati.

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