Ranking the Big Ten: Arrelious Benn, No. 1

June, 4, 2009
6/04/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

The rankings of the Big Ten's top 30 players end with ...

 
  Mark Cowan/Icon SMI
  Last season, Arrelious Benn had 1,668 all-purpose yards and five 100-yard receiving games.

No. 1

Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois, Jr., 6-2, 220

Why he's here -- Past performance and future potential have been the two primary gauges for these rankings, and no player satisfies both measures more than Rejus Benn. He came to Illinois as one of the best recruits in the country and, for the most part, has lived up to the hype, which is never a guarantee.

Benn won Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors in 2007 and broke Illinois' freshman receiving record with 676 yards as the Illini made a surprise run to the Rose Bowl. Despite being targeted by opposing defenses last fall, he racked up 1,055 receiving yards to lead the Big Ten at the end of the regular season. Benn also scored two rushing touchdowns and served as both a punt returner and a kickoff returner.

His 1,668 all-purpose yards marked the third-highest total in team history. He had five 100-yard receiving games, including a stretch of four straight during Big Ten play.

The big knock on Benn, from a statistics standpoint, is touchdowns. He has caught only five, a total that should increase this fall.

Benn's numbers at Illinois speak for themselves, but where he really separates himself is future potential. As I've written before, he's an NFL player who happens to still be in college. He projects extremely well to the next level and, barring a setback this fall, would be a strong candidate to enter the 2010 NFL draft. Benn enters 2009 as a consensus All-America candidate and a guy who could have a monster season for a talent-stocked Illinois offense.

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