Illinois' Benn to enter NFL draft

Before the season, I ranked Illinois receiver Arrelious Benn as the Big Ten's best player, using the criteria of past accomplishments and future potential.

And while Benn didn't have the type of season that he hoped for and that most of us expected, his past achievements and, most important, his NFL potential led to his decision to enter the NFL draft. Benn will announce he's turning pro later today, sources tell ESPN's Joe Schad.

This was the decision we expected all along. The only question seemed whether Benn's subpar season, the prospect of playing in a more receiver-friendly offense in 2010 and the chance to play with his older brother would keep him in Champaign.

I can't fault Benn at all for making this move, especially with all the uncertainty surrounding the Illinois program right now. The NFL scouts I've spoken to love the guy, and despite this season, Benn still projects extremely well to the next level.

His departure shouldn't surprise Illinois one bit, though the wide receiver/tight end position looks rather thin heading into 2010, when new offensive coordinator Paul Petrino implements his system. Illinois likely will consider moving Terry Hawthorne back to receiver after a solid freshman year at cornerback. Jarred Fayson will have to take on a much bigger role next fall after battling injuries this season.

Best of luck to Rejus, a player I always enjoyed watching and getting to know these last few years.