On Friday, football analyst Phil Steele released his coveted All-America squads, and there was one Illinois Fighting Illini player to make the list. Safety/returner V’Angelo Bentley was named to Steele’s third-team at the punt returner position.
All the talk about the Fighting Illini coming into the 2014 season has been about the offense.
Many are sleeping on Bentley’s special teams skills, but not Steele. He knows the damage that Bentley can cause in the return game.
Last season, V’Angelo Bentley returned twelve punts for 189 return yards and one touchdown. He averaged 15.8 yards per punt return.
He also racked up 663 yards off of kick returns. He was third on the Illini with 858 all purpose yards in 2013.
Bentley had less punt return yards last season because the Illinois defense did not force opponents into many punting situations, especially during Big Ten play.
If the Illini defense can force opponents into punting the ball more often this season, then Illini Nation can expect bigger numbers from V’Angelo Bentley in the punt return game.
Bentley has the skills and speed in the return game to make opponents pay, but will not be able showcase these skills if the defense doesn’t help out this upcoming season.
For the complete list of Phil Steele’s All-Americans, click here.