College Football 2009 NFP Scouting Series: Illinois Fighting Illini

Dale ThortonCorrespondent IJuly 21, 2009

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Quarterback Juice Williams #7 of the Illinois Fighting Illini looks for an open receiver in the first half against against the USC Trojans during the Rose Bowl presented by Citi at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2008 in Pasadena, California. The Trojans defeated the Illini 49-17.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

This summer, the National Football Post is breaking down every team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) to identify players who might warrant interest from NFL teams in the 2010 draft.

The Illinois Fighting Illini return the majority of their offense from a year ago and feature possibly the nation’s top wide receiver prospect, Arrelious Benn.


Isiah Williams: No. 7, QB, 6-1, 235

Possesses a high release point with the arm strength to get the ball down the field. However, gets a bit long with his delivery when trying to fit the ball into tight spots. Lacks ideal touch and isn’t real accurate in any area of the field. Gets sloppy with his footwork, especially in the short/intermediate passing game, and does not consistently align his feet with the target. Trusts his arm and possesses the confidence to put a little extra mustard behind his throws if needed, but tends to miss high or behind receivers. Always gives his wideouts a chance down the field, but doesn’t looks real comfortable throwing receivers open.

Lacks ideal awareness in the pass game and struggles consistently taking care of the ball. Does a much better job buying time in the pocket and keeping his eyes down the field than given credit for. But he’s still learning to read defenses and go through his progressions quickly from the pocket. However, he’s a gifted runner who has the athleticism to make a man miss and can certainly be a weapon in the open field.

Impression: A gifted athlete with a strong arm, but he needs lot of work. Could be an interesting developmental guy.

Daniel Dufrene: No. 22, RB, 5-10, 198

Displays a good initial first step up the field and possesses the footwork to cleanly get in and out of his breaks. Isn’t overly sudden in the open field, but has a clean jump-cut and can make a man miss. Runs with a good pad level, but lacks power in his lower half and doesn’t display much strength at the line of scrimmage. Makes himself small through the hole and possesses the vision to quickly hit lanes down the line. A decent receiver out of the backfield, but struggles plucking balls away from his frame. Possesses only average straight-line speed and doesn’t consistently outrun defenders to the corner or separate in the open field.

Impression: Doesn’t stand out in any area of the game, but is a savvy runner who could find a place in the NFL.

Arrelious Benn: No. 9, WR, 6-2, 220

Exhibits impressive awareness and hand/eye coordination when tracking the football down the field. Possesses the body control to adjust to the poorly thrown ball and go up and make the play. Lets the ball get into his body too much over the middle, but accelerates instantly after the catch. Is a physical runner in the open field who has the quickness to sidestep a defender and explode toward daylight.

Has an good first step off the line and does an impressive job dropping his pad level and exploding out of his breaks. Is very sudden when asked to change directions, but at times gets a bit leggy and will round off his routes. Knows how to beat press coverage; uses his quickness to gain a step on corners and his power to fight through their punch. Has a good understanding of where to sit down in zone coverage and consistently find the football. The only real knock on him is his lack of elite straight-line speed; looks more like a low 4.5 guy,

Impression: There isn’t much not to like about the guy. He plays the game the right way and looks like one of the top wide receiver prospects in the nation.

Michael Hoomanawanui: No. 16, TE, 6-3, 270

Possesses a nice-sized frame with good flexibility out of his stance. Gets into blocks quickly and has the footwork and balance to turn defenders out of the play. However, doesn’t display the type of in-line power you would expect from a tight end his size.

Displays a decent first step out of his stance in the pass game, but isn’t a real sharp route runner and lacks the burst to consistently separate out his breaks. However, he showcases a deceptive gear down the field and does a nice job securing the ball. Isn’t a natural plucker, but uses his body well to shield defenders and absorb the hit.

Impression: Offers intriguing size and should develop into a solid reserve tight end in both the run and pass game. Reminds me of a young Jim Kleinsasser.

Jeff Cumberland: No. 17, WR/TE/H-Back, 6-4, 246

A king-sized wideout who looks more like a tight end lined up outside. Isn’t real explosive out of his stance, but displays good short-area quickness and has the ability to cleanly change directions for a guy his size. Does a nice job finding the ball over the middle and has the body control and coordination to adjust to poorly thrown passes. Knows how to set up corners and does a nice job changing speeds out of his breaks and finding soft spots underneath. However, he isn’t explosive and lacks the speed to gain consistent separation out of his breaks and down the field.

Impression: Has some natural receiving skills but will likely be asked to make the move to tight end or H-back at the next level where he possesses the athleticism to get down the seam and separate underneath.

Jon Asamoah: No. 52, OG, 6-4, 308

A smart, technically sound lineman who displays good flexibility and bend off the snap. Isn’t real fluid on the move, struggles pivoting out of his stance and quickly getting from point A to point B. However, he possesses the body control to chip at the line and hit a moving target in space. Knows how to make his way through traffic, and although he isn’t very explosive, he seems to always reach his man. Does a nice job extending his arms and walking his feet through contact, but isn’t much of a Velcro player and doesn’t stick to defenders on the move. Has a tendency to get overextended in the run game and is easily sidestepped by athletic defensive linemen.

He possesses good lateral mobility in pass protection, but doesn’t deliver much of a punch and is consistently jolted at the point of attack. Is a coordinated lateral athlete and has the footwork to mirror defenders in space.

Impression: A fluid pass blocker who showcases smooth footwork in space, but needs to continue to add more power to his game.


Doug Pilcher: No. 95, DE, 6-5, 265

Displays impressive flexibility in his lower half and exhibits a good pop on contact. Does a nice job getting under offensive linemen and is very effective on his bull-rush. Works hard toward the ball and has a motor that runs non-stop. Lacks much of a burst off the snap and struggles reaching the corner as a pass rusher. Does a nice job keeping linemen from getting their hands on his frame, but doesn’t possess the lateral mobility to sidestep blocks.

Isn’t overly physical in the run game and has a tendency to get too high and overextend on contact. Struggles disengaging quickly from blocks and will allow himself to get swallowed up at the line of scrimmage. Does a nice job working his way inside and collapsing the pocket in the run game. However, he lacks the balance and hand placement to consistently shed and make plays on the ball.

Impression: Possesses some power on the bull-rush, but doesn’t display the explosion or balance to consistently make plays in any area of the game. 

Be sure to check out the rest of my breakdowns at Nationalfootballpost.com.


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