Daily Herald
Illinois' wide receiver Benn ready for next level
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 3/2/2010 12:00 AM

INDIANAPOLIS - It would be easy - and accurate - for Illinois wide receiver Arrelious "Regus" Benn to blame his disappointing statistics from last season on a bad (3-9) team or on having to play with three quarterbacks.

But he doesn't.

"I take full responsibility for it," said Benn, who caught just 38 passes for 490 yards and 2 touchdowns last year. "We're a team, and we just didn't get it done. But numbers don't tell everything. I don't have any regrets about going to Illinois."

Despite the drop-off from a sophomore season in which he caught 67 passes for 1,055 yards, Benn decided to pass up his senior season at Illinois and enter the NFL draft early. He's projected to be a late-first-round pick.

"Next year I would be working with my third offensive coordinator," he said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "I thought, if I'm going to do that, let it be at the next level."

Benn's performance at the combine was a mixed bag. He struggled in the "gauntlet drill," in which receivers run horizontally across the field from sideline to sideline catching passes from five different quarterbacks along the way.

Benn dropped some balls and his footwork was shaky, but he also ran a solid 4.48-second 40-yard dash and tied for the best mark among wide receivers with 20 repetitions of 225 pounds in the bench press.

He gets high marks from scouts for his toughness, willingness to go over the middle and impressive work ethic.

"I'm a guy who's going to put on his hard hat when it's time to go to work," Benn said. And those who know him best, like Illini guard Jon Asamoah (also at the combine), agree.

"He's cut from a different mold," Asamoah said. "Every time you came into the weight room, there's Arrelious stretching or Arrelious lifting."

In at least one national draft publication, Benn and Asamoah both are ranked No. 2 at their respective positions. Asamoah was asked which of them would be drafted first.

"Regus is the man," Asamoah said. "But, hey, whoever goes first, we'll both be happy for each other."

Dream come true: Back when he played at Marian Central Catholic High School in Woodstock, Bryan Bulaga never imagined he'd be on the verge of becoming a first-round draft pick in the NFL.

"I don't think you can really envision being in this situation," he said during combine workouts. "This is something that you watch on TV. I don't think you really envision it until it actually happens. This is a dream-come-true kind of deal."

Before becoming a first-team All-American last year and the Big Ten offensive lineman of the year at Iowa, Bulaga was a USA Today second-team All-American at Marian, where he also excelled at defensive end and tight end.

"My aspirations back then were trying to get a state championship and then trying to just get to a college and building up from there," he said.

Construction has gone well. In a talented group of offensive tackles that may produce six first-round picks, Bulaga could be first off the board, possibly in the top 10.