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December 10, 2009

Rivals.com 2009 All-Big East team

Pittsburgh landed 13 players on the Rivals.com All-Big East team, but Cincinnati's Mardy Gilyard might be the biggest winner.

Gilyard landed in three spots on the team: wide receiver and kick returner on the first team and punt returner on the second team. Gilyard took up as many spots on the all-conference team as USF and Rutgers and more than Louisville.

With its star receiver and specialist, Cincinnati had nine all-conference selections, tied with West Virginia and Connecticut. Syracuse had five All-Big East picks.

QB Tony Pike, Cincinnati
Particulars: 6-6/210, Sr. High school: Cincinnati Reading
Buzz: Though he missed three full games and part of two others after aggravating a broken arm from last season, Pike is the top quarterback in the Big East. He has passed for at least two touchdowns in every game he played and topped 300 yards in five of the seven games in which he was fully healthy. Even when he didn't start, he still threw two touchdown passes in red-zone duty against West Virginia.
RB Noel Devine, West Virginia
Particulars: 5-8/176, Jr. High school: Fort Myers (Fla.) North Fort Myers
Buzz: Devine is wrapping up a second season with at least 1,200 rushing yards while setting a career high with 13 total touchdowns. At the midway point of the season, he looked like a Heisman Trophy contender, but he wore down near the end of the season. He still rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown against Pittsburgh.
RB Dion Lewis, Pittsburgh
Particulars: 5-8/195, Fr. High school: Blairstown (N.J.) Blair Academy
Buzz: Lewis has run for 1,640 yards, easily passing the mark of his predecessor, LeSean McCoy, for the Big East single-season freshman rushing record. He should pass Tony Dorsett for the school single-season record against North Carolina in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Despite his size, he has been a workhorse, as shown by his 47 carries in the regular-season finale against Cincinnati.
WR Jonathan Baldwin, Pittsburgh
Particulars: 6-5/225, Soph. High school: Aliquippa (Pa.) High
Buzz: A five-star receiver out of high school, Baldwin has blossomed as a sophomore and eventually could follow in the footsteps of two other Biletnikoff winners from Pitt - Larry Fitzgerald and Antonio Bryant. Baldwin has 1,080 receiving yards and eight TDs, and he is a fearsome deep threat, averaging 20 yards per catch.
WR Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati
Particulars: 6-1/187, Sr. High school: Bunnell (Fla.) Flagler Palm Coast
Buzz: No matter who has quarterbacked Cincinnati the past two seasons, he has looked to Gilyard. One of the most dangerous receivers in the nation, Gilyard has caught 80 passes for 1,150 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has nice size, runs precise routes and has good speed.
TE Dorin Dickerson, Pittsburgh
Particulars: 6-2/230, Sr. High school: Imperial (Pa.) West Allegheny
Buzz: Dickerson was one of Pitt's top signees in 2006, but the Panthers couldn't find a spot for him until this season. He has flourished at tight end, catching 45 passes for 508 yards and 10 touchdowns.
T Jeff Linkenbach, Cincinnati
Particulars: 6-6/311, Sr. High school: Sandusky (Ohio) Margaretta
Buzz: Linkenbach has started under two coaches with vastly different offensive philosophies and excelled for both. Cincinnati has allowed the 10th-fewest sacks in the country despite attempting 427 passes this season.
T Jason Pinkston, Pittsburgh
Particulars: 6-4/305, Jr. High school: Pittsburgh Baldwin
Buzz: Much of the Panthers' success on offense can be traced to a punishing line. The line is anchored by Pinkston, who has helped Pittsburgh rank 16th in the country in the fewest sacks allowed.
G Zach Hurd, Connecticut
Particulars: 6-7/315, Jr. High school: Waterford (Conn.) High
Buzz: The Huskies don't struggle to find linemen any more. Hurd blocked last season for 2,000-yard back Donald Brown and paved the way this season for the two-headed monster of Jordan Todman and Andre Dixon.
G John Malecki, Pittsburgh
Particulars: 6-3/285, Sr. High school: Murrysville (Pa.) Franklin Regional
Buzz: The running backs have received most of the credit for Pittsburgh's success in the run game the past two seasons, but Malecki should get plenty of recognition, too. He moved from the defensive line to guard before the 2008 season and has started ever since.
C Chris Jurek, Cincinnati
Particulars: 6-2/286, Sr. High school: Lathrup Village (Mich.) Southfield-Lathrup
Buzz: Along with Pittsburgh, Cincinnati has one of the best lines in the conference. Jurek is a three-year starter who paves the way for the nation's No. 6 offense. The Bearcats, a pass-oriented team by trade, are capable enough in the run game to keep opponents honest.
Particulars: 6-6/260, Jr. High school: Deerfield Beach (Fla.) High
Buzz: Pierre-Paul, a junior college transfer, was perhaps the breakout defensive star in the Big East. Playing on the end opposite George Selvie, Pierre-Paul leads the Bulls in tackles for loss (14.5) and sacks (5.5).
T Arthur Jones, Syracuse
Particulars: 6-4/293, Sr. High school: Endicott (N.Y.) Union Endicott
Buzz: Jones missed the final three games of the season with a knee injury and had a down year statistically. But he continued to perform at a high level as the rest of the Syracuse defense improved around him. Jones had seven tackles for loss in nine games and helped the Orange lead the Big East in rush defense.
T Mick Williams, Pittsburgh
Particulars: 6-1/280, Sr. High school: Clairton (Pa.) High
Buzz: Williams has phenomenal numbers for a defensive tackle, ranking second in the Big East with 15 tackles for loss. He anchors the best defensive line in the conference and has 39 tackles and three forced fumbles.
E Greg Romeus, Pittsburgh
Particulars: 6-6/270, Jr. High school: Coral Springs (Fla.) Coral Glades
Buzz: Romeus' sack numbers are down from a season ago, but he remains one of the most fearsome pass rushers in the conference. Romeus finished the regular season with eight sacks, and he helped the Panthers lead the nation in that category.
LB J.T. Thomas, West Virginia
Particulars: 6-2/225, Jr. High school: Pompano Beach (Fla.) Ely
Buzz: Thomas has been an all-around threat from his linebacker spot. He finished the regular season with 71 tackles and seven tackles for loss, including two in the upset of Pittsburgh. Thomas also has proved to be an annoyance for opposing quarterbacks, with two interceptions and five pass breakups.
LB Kion Wilson, USF
Particulars: 6-2/235, Sr. High school: Jacksonville (Fla.) Raines
Buzz: The Bulls' defensive ends received most of the accolades over the past few seasons, but Wilson may have been the team's most important defender this season. He has 98 tackles and nine tackles for loss.
LB Lawrence Wilson, Connecticut
Particulars: 6-1/220, Jr. High school: Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Paul W. Bryant
Buzz: Wilson leads the Big East in tackles with 136 stops, most of which came while teammate Scott Lutrus was out with a neck injury. Wilson also has tacked on 10 tackles for loss, four sacks and three forced fumbles.
CB Brandon Hogan, West Virginia
Particulars: 5-10/181, Jr. High school: Manassas (Va.) Osbourn
Buzz: West Virginia leads the Big East in pass efficiency defense, and Hogan is among the league leaders with 10 pass breakups.
CB Devin McCourty, Rutgers
Particulars: 5-11/190, Sr. High school: Montvale (N.J.) St. Joseph Regional
Buzz: On defense, he led Rutgers with 78 tackles, adding 10 pass breakups and 7.5 tackles for loss. He also plays on most special teams, recording three blocked kicks in the process.
FS Nate Allen, South Florida
Particulars: 6-2/207, Sr. High school: Cape Coral (Fla.) High
Buzz: Allen has had a knack for coming up with the big play, and this season was no exception. He finished the regular season with four interceptions, all in Big East games. He also has 79 tackles.
SS Dom DeCicco, Pittsburgh
Particulars: 6-3/230, Jr. High school: Jefferson Hills (Pa.) Thomas Jefferson
Buzz: The ball-hawking safety continues to improve. He leads the Panthers with 85 tackles and is tied for the team lead with three interceptions.
K Tyler Bitancurt, West Virginia
Particulars: 6-1/180, R-Fr. High school: Springfield (Va.) West Springfield
Buzz: Bitancourt endeared himself to WVU fans by kicking the winning 43-yard field goal (plus three others) against Pittsburgh, but he was having a fine season before then. He is 13-of-14 on field goals this season, including 5-for-6 between 40 and 49 yards.
P Scott Kozlowski, West Virginia
Particulars: 5-11/191, Sr. High school: Royal Palm Beach (Fla.) High
Buzz: Kozlowski averages 44.8 yards per punt and has landed 17 of 61 kicks inside the 20. The Mountaineers are seventh in the nation in net punting.
KR Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati
Particulars: 6-1/187, Sr. High school: Bunnell (Fla.) Flagler Palm Coast
Buzz: Once again, opponents had no answer for Gilyard in the return game. He averages 31.6 yards per kickoff return and has taken two back for touchdowns.
PR Robert McClain, Connecticut
Particulars: 5-9/198, Sr. High school: Lusby (Md.) Patuxent
Buzz: McClain had the unenviable task of taking over for slain punt returner Jasper Howard. He has handled himself well by averaging 14.8 yards per return and took one back for a touchdown against Cincinnati.
QB Bill Stull, Pittsburgh
Particulars: 6-3/215, Sr. High school: Pittsburgh Seton-LaSalle
RB Delone Carter, Syracuse
Particulars: 5-10/215, Sr. High school: Copley (Ohio) High
RB Jordan Todman, Connecticut
Particulars: 5-9/189, Soph. High school: North Dartmouth (Mass.) Dartmouth
WR Armon Binns, Cincinnati
Particulars: 6-4/200, Jr. High school: Pasadena (Calif.) High
WR Tim Brown, Rutgers
Particulars: 5-8/165, Sr. High school: Miami Northwestern
WR Marcus Easley, Connecticut
Particulars: 6-2/216, Sr. High school: Stratford (Conn.) Bunnell
T Anthony Davis, Rutgers
Particulars: 6-6/325, Jr. High school: Piscataway (N.J.) High
T Mike Hicks, Connecticut
Particulars: 6-6/323, Sr. High school: Seymour (Conn.) High
G Ryan Bartholomew, Syracuse
Particulars: 6-3/288, Sr. High school: Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha Catholic
G Travis Kelce, Cincinnati
Particulars: 6-4/290, Jr. High school: Cleveland Heights (Ohio) High
C Moe Petrus, Connecticut
Particulars: 6-2/288, Soph. High school: St. Laurent (Quebec) Vanier Prep
E Julian Miller, West Virginia
Particulars: 6-4/251, Soph. High school: Columbus (Ohio) Beechcroft
T Gus Mustakas, Pittsburgh
Particulars: 6-3/285, Sr. High school: Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna Prep
T Chris Neild, West Virginia
Particulars: 6-2/298, Jr. High school: Stroudsburg (Pa.) High
E Lindsey Witten, Connecticut
Particulars: 6-5/260, Sr. High school: Cleveland Glenville
LB Chris Campa, Louisville
Particulars: 6-2/210, Sr. High school: Orlando Freedom
LB Adam Gunn, Pittsburgh
Particulars: 6-2/230, Sr. High school: Vandergrift (Pa.) Kiski Area
LB Derrell Smith, Syracuse
Particulars: 6-1/235, Sr. High school: New Castle (Del.) Paul Hodgson Vocational Tech
CB Aaron Berry, Pittsburgh
Particulars: 5-11/180, Sr. High school: Harrisburg (Pa.) Bishop McDevitt
CB Robert McClain, Connecticut
Particulars: 5-9/198, Sr. High school: Lusby (Md.) Patuxent
FS Robert Sands, West Virginia
Particulars: 6-5/215, Soph. High school: Miami Carol City
SS Aaron Webster, Cincinnati
Particulars: 6-2/211, Sr. High school: Detroit Birmingham Groves
K Dan Hutchins, Pittsburgh
Particulars: 5-11/190, Jr. High school: Williamsport (Pa.) Loyalsock Township
P Rob Long, Syracuse
Particulars: 6-4/184, Jr. High school: Downington (Pa.) Downington West
KR Cameron Saddler, Pittsburgh
Particulars: 5-7/170, R-Fr. High school: Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway
PR Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati
Particulars: 6-1/187, Sr. High school: Bunnell (Fla.) Flagler Palm Coast

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com.



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