Miller, Davis, Benn Lead Nine Illini Named All-Big Ten
Nov. 24, 2008
Three Illinois players were named to the All-Big Ten first team, three were selected to the second team and three were named honorable mention, the conference office announced Monday. Senior linebacker Brit Miller, junior cornerback Vontae Davis and sophomore receiver Arrelious Benn were the first-team honorees, junior quarterback Juice Williams, senior center Ryan McDonald and senior left tackle Xavier Fulton were second-team picks and junior right guard Jon Asamoah, junior tight end Michael Hoomanawanui and senior defensive end Derek Walker were honorable mention selections according to conference media representatives.
Davis also was a first-team pick by the Big Ten coaches, while Miller, Benn and Fulton were named to the second team. Asamoah, Hoomanwanui, McDonald, Walker and Williams were honorable mention selections by the conference coaches.
Miller anchored the Illini defense after switching to middle linebacker for his senior season, leading the Big Ten and ranking third nationally in tackles with 132 (11.0 per game). He also ranked fifth in the league and 28th in the nation in tackles for loss with 15.5 (1.29 per game), and ranked eighth in the Big Ten with six sacks (0.5 per game). Miller also recovered three fumbles, which tied for the league lead, and broke up a career-high eight passes.
Davis was one of Illinois' defensive leaders in 2008, leading the team with 10 passes defended (eight break-ups, two interceptions) and finishing second to Miller and ranking 15th in the league with 78 tackles, 6.5 per game. He also was third on the team with seven tackles for loss and his three fumbles forced were tied for the Big Ten lead. Davis currently is a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award, the second-straight year he has made that award's semifinal list.
Benn had a breakout sophomore season, leading the Big Ten in receiving yards per game at 87.9 and ranking third in receptions per game with 5.58. He broke the Illinois record with four consecutive games of over 100 receiving yards with 110 at Penn State, 122 at Michigan, 181 versus Minnesota and 130 against Indiana. He finished the year with five 100-yard receiving games, which ranks seventh in school history. Benn's 67 catches this season rank fifth in Illinois history, as do his 1,055 receiving yards. After just two seasons, Benn ranks seventh in career receiving yards and eighth in career receptions.
Williams broke the Illinois record for total offense in a season with 3,892 yards and became only the sixth quarterback in school history to pass for over 3,000 yards with his 3,173 passing yards. Williams led the Big Ten and ranked seventh nationally in total offense with 324.3 yards per game, ranked third in the league in passing efficiency at 138.1 and ranked ninth in the Big Ten in rushing with 59.9 yards per game.
McDonald tied the school record with his 48th career start on Saturday at Northwestern, equaling Tim Simpson's school record set from 1988-91. McDonald, Fulton and Asamoah helped paved the way for the Illini to put up the third-most yards of total offense per game in school history (438.8) and the seventh-most points per game (28.7) in school history. The Illini led the Big Ten in passing yards per game, ranked second in total offense and third in scoring offense. Illinois ranked 18th in the country in passing offense, 20th in total offense and 41st in scoring offense.
Hoomanawanui burst onto the scene in 2008, catching 25 passes, third-most on the team, for 312 yards, an average of 12.5 per catch, and two touchdowns. He was a first down machine, with 18 of his receptions going for first downs and two others resulting in scores. Walker had a strong senior campaign, recording six sacks and seven total tackles for loss among his 33 stops. He started the season with a bang, picking off a pass against Missouri and returning it 34 yards for a touchdown. He finishes his career tied for seventh on the Illinois career sacks list with 15.