Dec. 16, 2009
University of Illinois junior receiver Arrelious Benn announced today that he plans to forego his senior year of eligibility to enter the 2010 National Football League Amateur Draft on April 24-25. He was the 2007 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and a first-team All-Big Ten selection and fourth-team All-American in 2008.
"I want to thank our fans, my teammates, our coaches and staff for making my experience at the University of Illinois a great one," Benn said. "I especially want to thank Coach Zook. He was more than a coach to me - he was a great father figure. He helped me improve as a player and grow as a person.
"With the support of Coach Zook and my mom, I am ready to pursue my lifelong dream of playing in the NFL. I also plan to finish college and earn a degree from the University of Illinois. I know the hard work is just beginning and as I begin this new adventure, I will always be proud to represent the Fighting Illini."
"I am very happy for Rejus," Head Coach Ron Zook said. "I feel very fortunate that I have been able to develop such a strong relationship with Rejus and his family over the past three years. I know this has always been a goal of his, to be in position to make this decision after three years. What is most impressive about him and his mother is their commitment to academics. Even though he will go on to have a great professional career, he is going to make sure to get a degree from Illinois. I love Rejus like my son, and he has always shown such great character and represented the university well. He will be greatly missed, not just because of his abilities on the field but because of what he brought to the team in work ethic and leadership. I wish him the best of luck."
Benn was a three-year starter for the Illini, making an immediate impact on the team as a true-freshman. He helped lead the squad to the 2008 Rose Bowl with 54 catches for 676 yards, both freshman records at Illinois. Benn caught fire as a sophomore, topping the 1,000-yard receiving mark with 1,055 yards on 67 catches, an average 15.7 yard per reception. His 67 receptions and 1,055 yards both rank fifth on the Illinois single-season records list.
In his three-year span, he caught 159 passes for 2,221 yards and seven touchdowns. Benn added big-play ability to the Illinois offense, recording 26 catches of 25 yards or more in his career. He finished the 2009 season leading the team in receiving yards for the third-straight season. Benn started 35 of his 37 games played and caught a pass in all but one career game.
Benn entered his junior year as a consensus preseason All-American and was touted by many preseason publications as the one of the Big Ten's and nation's best receivers. He came to Illinois as the No. 1 overall receiver recruit in the country and a Parade All-American. He enrolled early in the spring semester of 2007, which allowed him to get a jump on his academic agenda.
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