Things are actually looking up for the Illinois Fighting Illini football team right now, something that you haven't really been able to say since the victory over UCLA at the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Sure, we're entering yet another season with a new offensive coordinator. And yes, Tim Beckman is still at the helm of this incredibly fast sinking ship. But that offensive coordinator is actually someone who has shown to be great at that exact job before, not just a massively talented recruiter in over his head.
More good news? Aaron Bailey arrives this fall. Wes Lunt does as well. That's a tandem of four star quarterback talent. Hopefully Bailey redshirts, joining Lunt in ineligibility for the season, setting up a 2014 in which Cubit's system has been in place and recruited for with two of the best offensive talents Champaign has recently seen on offense together. In my mind, there's just one last piece missing. And that piece is finding whichever one of them winds up at QB their very own Arrelious Benn.
I'm not trying to take anything away from A.J. Jenkins or Brandon Lloyd, both of whom were tremendous players during their careers in blue and orange. But no Illini wide receiver in my lifetime had the raw talent and all-around ability that Rejus Benn happened to possess. Yes, I'm biased towards the man because he was always more nice to me than he had to be. And while Benn sits behind both Lloyd and Jenkins in career receiving yards, he played one fewer season for the Illini. Benn also happens to be fourth in Illini history in all purpose yards with 3,613.
A man who had to rely on Juice Williams and occasionally Eddie McGee to throw him the ball wound up with the 7th most receiving yards in school history. He averaged 4.5 yards per carry! Yes, you're reading that right. Not per catch, but per carry. He was our slash player on offenses that featured future NFL running backs! He had the hands of a lesser god! He not only absorbed contact, he thrived on it! AND WE SQUANDERED HIM!
Sorry, I get a little carried away some times. The point is we're about to finally have a talented QB again. The backfield will be strong as well. But the Illini still need that one wide receiver who can handle double coverage and can dominate a secondary. The future Illini are still waiting for their next Arrelious Benn.