Illini Gridders Receive Accolades

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - University of Illinois football players are finding their names on many preseason awards lists, including projected All-America and All-Big Ten accolades. Leading the way is junior cornerback Vontae Davis who has been named a preseason All-American by Phil Steele's and Lindy's College Football Preview Magazines.

Davis heads into his third season as a starter at cornerback, after beginning his career at the position as a true freshman. In 2007, Davis was a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award and a 2007 first-team All-Big Ten selection. He was a consensus Freshman All-American in 2006 as well as an honorable mention all-conference pick. In two years, Davis has compiled 128 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, five interceptions and 14 passes defended.

Preseason All-Big Ten teams from Phil Steele, Lindy's and Blue Ribbon have tabbed five Illini on the first-team list, including V. Davis, sophomore wide receiver and kick returner Arrelious Benn, senior defensive end Will Davis, senior offensive tackle Xavier Fulton and sophomore linebacker Martez Wilson. Senior center Ryan McDonald garnered second-team honors from all three publications and junior quarterback Juice Williams earned the title of Best Scrambler in the Big Ten by Lindy's.

Fulton and McDonald return to an offensive line that posted its best total rushing numbers in school history with 3,338 yards, leading the Big Ten for the second straight season. The line also allowed a record low 11 sacks in the regular season. Benn and Williams represent the offensive skill players and the passing game. Benn in his first season with the Illini caught 56 passes for 676 yards and was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Williams improved his passing percentage by 17 points from 2006 to '07 and continued to impact the rushing game with 755 yards.

Defensively in addition to V. Davis, Will Davis' name has been mentioned among the best defensive linemen in the league. Over 25 percent of his tackles were for loss and he logged 9.5 quarterback sacks. Wilson will get his shot this year to make an impact at linebacker. In his first year, he had 29 tackles, three for loss, two sacks and was an honorable mention Freshman All-American.

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