#2: DE Jerry Hughes, Texas Christian
The Verdict: Speed kills. It's not just a phrase that describes Gary Patterson's defense at TCU, but a mantra which defensive end Jerry Hughes embodies in every sense of the word. Make no mistake about it, the 6-foot-3, 257-pound Hughes is not only the best defensive end in the non-BCS conferences, he may just be the best defensive end in the country. A former high school running back with elite quickness and uncanny explosion, Hughes was a Consensus All-American in 2008, leading the nation with 15 total sacks and six forced fumbles. A game-changer in every sense of the word, Hughes recorded 19.5 tackles for a loss last season, adding three fumble recoveries and two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) to go along with an already insane resume. He was a one man wrecking crew against BYU, sacking Max Hall four times and helping the Horned Frogs take down the Cougars. Hughes would have been a first round pick had he declared for last year's NFL draft, but makes TCU the team to beat in the Mountain West this year as he returns for his senior season in Fort Worth.