A.J. Jenkins Develops into Illini Go-to Receiver, Big Ten Star

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In the 2009 preseason, college football experts were proclaiming the Illinois Fighting Illini receiving corps to be the best in the Big Ten, and among the best in the nation.

Well, the Illini finished 10th in passing in the conference out of 11 teams and stumbled to a 3-9 record. So it’s safe to say that the WRs fell short of expectations.

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Arrelious Benn Selected by Tampa Bay

By Paul Schmidt

“I don’t really try to predict things like this. There was some interest and we had talked but I didn’t really know anything for sure.”

Those were the first words from now-former University of Illinois wide receiver Arrelious “Rejus” Benn in his teleconference with reporters after being selected 39th overall pick of the NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. [Read more…]

Best Available WRs this Draft Class

By Paul M. Banks

A rather thin group, I included the TEs here and forecasted where they might go.

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Is Arrelious Benn Jumping to the NFL?

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By Paul M. Banks

NFL Mock Drafts everywhere have University of Illinois junior wide receiver Arrelious “Rejus” Benn as a first round prospect. ESPN’s Draft Czar Mel Kiper rates Benn the #2 wideout in the nation on his list of NFL Draft WR prospects. So he’s certain to forgo his senior season and declare for the NFL Draft, right?

“That’s a decision I will probably make down the road, I’m not sure as to what I’m going to do,” Benn said following the final game of his junior season, a heart-breaking last second 53-52 loss to Fresno. Benn was arcane when probed by the media about his returning for his final year of eligibility: “It doesn’t matter when I go, the NFL is gonna be there. College is still here if I stay and get my degree…whatever I want to do.”

Benn finishes his career fourth in school history in receptions and all-purpose yards, and sixth in receiving yards. He has a first team all conference season, and a thousand yard year on his resume. So on the outside it seems like a no-brainer for him to go, right?

“Yeah…anyone would think that, but I’ve still got to think about it,” Benn replied. One factor Benn’s considering in his equation is his education, and he’s close to completing his degree . “I’m very close, since I graduated high school early to come here (and enroll in the spring and participate in spring practices).”

As most players will tell you, Benn says he stays away from looking at NFL Mock Drafts and NFL draft player and position rankings. “I don’t read it, because it’s placed by numbers. That stuff doesn’t really matter when it comes to being drafted. That’s just college football talk,” Benn said.

It might be safe to say that Benn’s draft stock was higher in August than it is now, as his team’s 3-9 record, the massive struggles the Illini had at the quarterback position (and sometimes in the offense overall) affecting his final season numbers and getting hurt a couple times might push him more towards pursuing that pro career.

“Injuries still happen, and I had small, minor injuries, but I still got in all the snaps in all the games that I could. That’s not something that I’m concerned about. That’s just football, and I expect that I’ve got the type of body that is durable for it.”

NFL scouts will indeed drool over Benn’s physical gifts, which are apparent on sight. And he should have an impressive combine; which would obviously send his stock back up. Another factor of interest is the NFL likely not having a salary cap next year. The collective bargaining agreement has expired, and unless they get a new one in place for 2010, player salaries, including those of draft picks, could skyrocket. So even in the unlikely event that Benn falls out of the first round, the NFL money may be too much to pass up.

In this game of “should I stay or should I go now?” (apologies to the Britpunk band The Clash) Benn also did not indicate which way he was leaning. “Nah, I’m not leaning toward any kind of way right now,” he said.

But either way, expect an answer by the holidays. “I’m finishing up finals, and after that I’ll probably make the decision. You know there’s a lot to think about, and I’ve got a supporting cast behind me, when I come up with a decision, I’m gonna do it.”