No. 16 is being released today. The Athlon countdown continues for the next 15 weekdays leading to the on-sale date of Athlon's category-leading preseason annuals. Ron Zook's Illinois Fighting Illini take the No. 16 position with 11 players selected as All-Big Ten performers. Athlon Sports predicts Illinois to finish second in the Big Ten Conference. In 2007, Athlon Sports led all other preseason football magazines in prediction accuracy.*
"There's no question that Illinois is one of the most talented teams in the Big Ten," says Athlon Sports senior editor Mitch Light. "Replacing Rashard Mendenhall will be tough, but the Illini have everything else in place to be very good on offense. And the defense, which was consistently strong last season, should be solid once again."
Wide receiver Arrelious Benn and cornerback Vontae Davis are named Third-Team All-America and First-Team All-Big Ten. Offensive lineman Xavier Fulton and linebacker Brit Miller are named First-Team All-Big Ten. Quarterback Juice Williams, center Ryan McDonald and defensive linemen Will Davis and David Lindquist are named Second-Team All-Big Ten. Offensive lineman Jon Asamoah, defensive lineman Derek Walker and linebacker Martez Wilson join the All-Big Ten Third Team.