Bello: 'I feel real comfortable. I feel fine'

B.J. Bello doesn't see Eric Finney's injury as an opportunity for personal gain. He says he simply wants to help his teammates succeed.

CHAMPAIGN – Fielding question after question following Friday's practice, B.J. Bello declined to talk about his own self and the opportunity he has in front of him.

With Eric Finney out for the next couple weeks with a knee injury, Bello is the one running with the starting defense.

He spent the past two days working at the Star position and has drawn positive remarks from teammates and head coach Tim Beckman. But Bello wasn't game to talk about his own status.

"We just hope Eric Finney gets back because the sooner he gets back the better we'll be as a defense," Bello said.

"Eric is a good player. He makes plays and he can help the defense in so many ways as a hybrid. He's helped me out, I've helped him out."

Bello certainly looks the part. His 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame has the making for what the staff needs in a Star – a linebacker/safety hybrid that can provide pass coverage and run support. The redshirt freshman said moving from the second-team unit to playing with the starters was a comfortable transition.

"We worked hard over the summer, put in hours on the film, hours on the field as a team. I feel real comfortable. I feel fine," he said.

The cousin of former Illini safety Supo Sanni, Bello says he's not thinking about remaining the starter or worried about when Finney will return. Finney could return for the season opener against Southern Illinois Aug. 31, but "will be cutting it close," according to Beckman. That leaves the job in Bello's hands for the next few weeks.

"We hate to see people go down," Bello said. "I'm not so worried about it being an opportunity for me. I'm more worried about helping my defense, helping my teammates as much as I can."

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