Junior wide receiver Arrelious Benn
April 2, 2009
by Jonathan Zobrist
Since his arrival on campus, junior Arrelious Benn has proven he is one of the most talented receivers in Illinois' history. The opposition also realizes the Washington D.C. native's ability, as he often saw double coverage during the 2008 season. Since spring practice, Benn has not been the only receiver garnering the defense's attention.
Junior Jarred Fayson not only looks to be a key component of that diversion, but also a key component of the Fighting Illini offense. The University of Florida transfer sat out due to NCAA transfer rules last year and is now primed to contribute.
"I think I will definitely take some pressure off of Rejus," Fayson said. "We will create situations where the defense can't key on one guy, so we will be able to make more plays."
No one is more aware of Fayson's ability than Benn.
"Jarred will be the best thing that ever happened to me as far as opening up opportunities," Benn said. "We need to be two of the guys taking control of the offense and putting points on the board. He will definitely take a lot of the attention off of me."
Aside from Fayson's arrival, the Orange and Blue bring back one of the strongest and deepest units. Senior Jeff Cumberland led all Illini receivers in touchdowns a year ago and will continue to be one of senior quarterback Juice William's favorite targets. Senior Chris Duvalt also caught passes in critical situations for the Illini a year ago.
"A couple of upper-class guys really came into their own last year," receivers coach Jim Pry said. "We need them to continue to build on their success if we are going to reach our goals for the year."
A year ago, numerous underclassmen contributed significantly to the Illinois offense, including sophomores A.J. Jenkins and Fred Sykes. Freshman Jack Ramsey has also impressed the coaching staff so far this spring with his athleticism. They will once again be instrumental for success next season and for the development of the program.
"The younger guys are really looking to make that next step," Pry said. "They have been committed and worked hard this spring," Pry said. "If they continue to improve we should have one of the top receiving corps in the Big Ten."
The combination of Fayson on the field and continued development of a talented group of receivers should allow Benn to be more productive and the Illinois offense to be more effective in 2009.