Illini well represented in early rounds

February, 26, 2011
2/26/11
11:49
AM ET

INDIANAPOLIS -- For a program short on consistency, the University of Illinois has churned out an impressive amount of NFL talent the past couple of seasons.

Three Illini products have been selected in the top two rounds in the last three years: RB Rashard Mendenhall (No. 23) to the Steelers in 2008, CB Vontae Davis (No. 25) to the Miami Dolphins in 2009 and WR Arrelious Benn (No. 39) to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2010.

This year, even though Illinois finished 7-6, three members of the team could come off the board in the first round alone.

That list includes: defensive tackle Corey Liuget, running back Mikel Leshoure and linebacker Martez Wilson.

All three are underclassmen.

Liuget displayed excellent productivity from his interior line position, and recorded 12.5 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks his final year in Champaign. The defensive tackle had a banner performance in Illinois' 38-14 win over Baylor in the Texas Bowl, registering 5 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss and a sack.

Leshoure was a second team All-American selection who broke the Illinois single-season record with 1,697 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. He ran for 187 yards and three touchdowns in the Texas Bowl and was named the games MVP.

Wilson, an athletic inside linebacker, may have the lowest draft stock of the three, but he was selected first team All-Big Ten in 2010 and led the Illini defense with 112 tackles.


Jeff Dickerson | email

Chicago Bears beat reporter
Dickerson has been the Bears beat reporter for ESPN Chicago since 2004. He also hosts weeknight radio shows on ESPN 1000.

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