Illinois Notebook

By Adam Caparell - April 17, 2007

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Not everyone lives up to the kind of hype that surrounded Arrelious Benn coming out of high school, but the early enrollee at Illinois seems to be doing so 13 practices into his Illini career.

The 6-foot-1, 210 pound all-world, potential through the roof, star in the making wide out is making quite an impression on his new teammates.

"Terrific," QB Juice Williams said of Benn. "He's a big play-maker. He has good hands. He can run with the ball. He's strong, has speed - an all-around great athlete."

Benn looked the part Tuesday during Illinois' 2:15 minute practice adjacent to Memorial Stadium. Benn did it all, participating in receiving, running and kick returning drills. Any chance to get him on the field Illinois coach Ron Zook figures to take advantage of considering how fast the Washington, D.C. native is.

"He's amazing," fellow receiver Kyle Hudson said. "I've seen him make a couple of plays on film that are just amazing, how he breaks tackles. He's a big body. We're glad to have him."

"He's the type of guy who's going to get better every second of the day," Williams said. "And I kind of like that in a receiver."

Wiliams and Benn have quickly developed a nice chemistry, already having spent time after practice with each other.

It's Been A While: Tuesday also saw the debut of CJ Jackson as the Illini's potential new tight end.

The 6-foot-8 forward on the basketball team, who hasn't played football in three years, suited up with the football team for the first time in hopes of seeing if he still has the kind of skills that made him a highly sought after recruit on the gridiron.

"I was a little bit surprised to see him go with basketball," Zook, who recruited Jackson to play for him at Florida, said. "That tells you what kind of athlete he is."

Jackson was a sought after commodity only three seasons ago. Many other SEC teams were interested in bringing Jackson into their program.

"You can see he can move, move his hips, catch the football," Zook said. "He's got athletic ability. But like I told him when we talked to him Sunday, he's got to decide if this is something he'd like to do."

Old Man: Bo Folwers isn't your typical freshman.

One of Illinois new safeties, Flowers is 23, figures to make an immediate impact on defense come fall and just happens to be a walk-on.

So why is one of the team's better newcomers not worthy of a scholarship? Because the Detroit Tigers are paying for his education.

After not cutting it in baseball for three years in the Tigers farm system and year with the Chicago Cubs, Flower has decided to turn back to football where the former highly regarded dual threat quarterback will take his large frame to the secondary while the Tigers pick up the bill for his time in school.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 10:38 PM on April 17, 2007

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