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August 18, 2008

Selvie dents top spot in D-line rankings

More Power Rankings: Running backs | Wide receivers | Tight ends | Offensive linemen

USF defensive end George Selvie still has a dent from the time a Buick rolled off a car jack and hit him in the head during his infancy.

He has spent the past two seasons causing similar dents in opposing quarterbacks.

Selvie delivered the type of results last fall that easily ranked as the best single-season performance in USF's brief football history. He led the nation with 31.5 tackles for loss and ranked second to Indiana's Greg Middleton with 14.5 sacks.

That kind of season made Selvie our choice as the No. 1 defensive lineman in the Rivals.com College Football Power Rankings, which measure the nation's top players and coaches at each position.

With two years of eligibility remaining, Selvie already has 20 career sacks to tie the school record. He recorded 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks last season in an overtime upset of Auburn, and continued delivering dominant performances the rest of the season.

We're introducing our preseason power rankings on a position-by-position basis. We'll continue Tuesday with the introduction of our linebacker rankings.

The rating of a player and coach can fluctuate each week during the season depending on how they fared the previous week, but the power rankings measure overall career performances as well as their most recent results.

1. George Selvie, End, USF, Jr.
The buzz: Selvie posted an NCAA-leading 31.5 tackles for loss one shy of the single-season record - and ranked second in the nation with 14.5 sacks last season. He was a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award, awarded to the best defensive end, and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, given to the best defensive player.
2. Fili Moala, Tackle, USC, Sr.
The buzz: Consider this high ranking a leap of faith in someone who quietly performed well the past two seasons in the shadow of Sedrick Ellis, selected by the New Orleans Saints with the No. 7 overall pick in the NFL Draft. If he keeps USC's defense performing at a high level this season, don't be surprised if Moala is drafted as early as his former teammate next year.
3. Greg Hardy, End, Ole Miss, Jr.
The buzz: Although he will miss six to eight weeks with a stress fracture in his right foot, Hardy already has proved he doesn't need a full season to wreak havoc. Hardy needed only 10 games to compile 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss last season.
4. Maurice Evans, End, Penn State, Jr.
The buzz: Evans collected 21.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks last season to help Penn State rank second in the nation in the latter category. This big-play performer showed his nose for the football by forcing five fumbles.
5. Gerald McCoy, Tackle, Oklahoma, Soph.
The buzz: McCoy's numbers (10 solo tackles, nine assists last season) may seem ordinary, but don't be fooled. This third-year sophomore already has impressed NFL scouts with his potential as a run-stuffing presence in the middle of the line.
6. Vance Walker, Tackle, Georgia Tech, Sr.
The buzz: Walker recorded 14 tackles for loss and forced three fumbles last season to earn third-team All-America honors from Rivals.com in his first season as a starter. He also showed remarkable consistency by delivering at least one tackle for loss in 11 of Georgia Tech's 12 regular-season games.
7. Sen'Derrick Marks, Tackle, Auburn, Jr.
The buzz: Marks has made 26 consecutive starts and has recorded a total of 20 tackles for loss over the past two seasons. He also is a threat on special teams: Marks blocked two field-goal attempts last season. He is moving inside from end this season, where his quickness will cause myriad problems for opposing guards and centers.
8. Ricky Jean-Francois, Tackle, LSU, Jr.
The buzz: Jean-Francois sat out the 2007 regular season for an academic-related issue, but he delivered a year's worth of highlights in two games. He was named the defensive Most Outstanding Player in the BCS Championship Game victory over Ohio State.
9. Everson Griffen, End, USC, Soph.
The buzz: Although this marks Griffen's first year as a starter, his performance as a part-time player last season suggests he will be an extremely capable replacement for departed first-round pick Lawrence Jackson. His 3.5 sacks against Oregon State were the most by a USC player in a single game since Tim Ryan delivered four sacks against UCLA in 1989.
10. Geno Atkins, Tackle, Georgia, Jr.
The buzz: Atkins started just seven games last season, yet he still recorded 7.5 sacks and a team-high 14.5 tackles for loss. The Bulldogs would love to see him pick up right where he left off - Atkins compiled four sacks in Georgia's final two games last season. He and Jeff Owens can be a devastating duo in the middle for Georgia.
11. George Hypolite, Tackle, Colorado, Sr.
The buzz: Off the field, Hypolite is one of the game's nicest guys. He was one of 11 players named the American Football Coaches Association Good Works team for his community service work. On the field, he's a terror. His six sacks last season were the most by a Colorado defensive tackle since 2002.
12. Terrill Byrd, Tackle, Cincinnati, Sr.
The buzz: Byrd is entering his fourth year as a starter and twice has earned first-team All-Big East honors. He recorded 6.5 tackles for loss in the Bearcats' final two games last season and has 32 stops behind the line of scrimmage in his career.
13. Greg Middleton, End, Indiana, Jr.
The buzz: Middleton is one of the major reasons the Hoosiers reached their 2007 preseason goal of earning a bowl bid. He led the nation with 16 sacks and recorded more than one sack in six of the Hoosiers' 13 games.
14. Auston English, End, Oklahoma, Sr.
The buzz: English missed the Sooners' last three regular-season games a year ago with a hairline ankle fracture, yet he still finished the season with 9.5 sacks and a team-high 13 tackles for loss. The Sooners can't wait to see what he can accomplish in a full season.
15. Will Davis, End, Illinois, Sr.
The buzz: How much of an impact can Davis make in a game? Ask the Indiana Hoosiers. Davis recorded four sacks and forced a fumble last year in Illinois' 27-14 victory over Indiana.
16. Tyson Jackson, End, LSU, Sr.
The buzz: Jackson recorded just 3.5 sacks last season, down from 8.5 in 2006. If Jackson can recapture his 2006 form, LSU likely will have the best defensive line in the nation.
17. Antonio Coleman, End, Auburn, Jr.
The buzz: He's the reason Auburn's defense ought to withstand the departure of Quentin Groves. Coleman recorded 18.5 tackles for loss 14.5 in the last nine games of the season and 8.5 sacks as a first-year starter last fall.
18. Brian Orakpo, End, Texas, Sr.
The buzz: Orakpo missed four games last season with an injured right knee, but he showed late in the season how much of an impact he's capable of making when healthy. Orakpo closed the year by delivering six tackles and two sacks in a Holiday Bowl victory over Arizona State.
19. Nick Reed, End, Oregon, Sr.
The buzz: Reed recorded 12 sacks including 3.5 each against Washington State and Arizona State - and delivered 22.5 tackles for loss last season. Selvie and Hardy are the only returning defensive players who averaged more tackles for loss per game than Reed.
20. Terrance Taylor, Tackle, Michigan, Sr.
The buzz: Taylor has started at nose tackle each of the past two seasons and has learned how to cause plenty of disruption in the middle of the line. He compiled 55 tackles last year to become the first Michigan defensive tackle since Josh Williams in 1997 to finish a season with at least 50 stops.
21. Mitch King, Tackle, Iowa, Sr.
The buzz: This fourth-year starting tackle has recorded at least 11 tackles for loss each of the past three seasons. King, a converted linebacker, has averaged 58 tackles per season during his career and broke up seven passes last year.
22. Lawrence Wilson, End, Ohio State, Sr.
The buzz: Wilson didn't get a chance to live up to his extraordinary potential last season because he broke his right leg in the Buckeyes' season opener. We're betting he uses this season as a chance to make up for lost time.
23. Jan Jorgensen, End, BYU, Jr.
The buzz: Jorgensen set a Mountain West Conference single-season record last year with 14 sacks. Middleton and Selvie are the only active players who averaged more sacks per game last fall.
24. Arthur Jones, Tackle, Syracuse, Jr.
The buzz: Jones tallied 17.5 tackles for loss last season and ranked ninth in the nation last year with 1.6 tackles for loss per game. His big season resulted in second-team All-Big East honors.
25. Ron Brace, Tackle, Boston College, Sr.
The buzz: Brace's 6-foot-3, 324-pound presence was a major reason the Eagles ranked second in the nation in run defense last year. Brace and B.J. Raji - who missed last season for academic reasons - should give Boston College one of the nation's top run-stuffing tandems this season.

More Power Rankings: Running backs | Wide receivers | Tight ends | Offensive linemen

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.

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