The first domino by the Illinois Fighting Illini in preseason watch lists fell, as junior cornerback/returner V’Angelo Bentley was named to the 2014 Hornung Award watch list on Tuesday.
Bentley is one of the most (if not the most) versatile players for the Fighting Illini, and will look to have an even more productive season that he did in 2013.
The Hornung Award is given annually to the most versatile player in major college football. The award recipient is selected by vote of the Paul Hornung Award Selection Committee. The award itself is named after NFL Hall of Fame member Paul Hornung, and has been presented since 2010.
Bentley led the Big Ten and ranked seventh overall in punt return average.
He also is a key piece in the Illini’s kick return game (663 yards on 31 returns in 2013) and defensive backfield (22 total tackles in 2013).
The Big Ten has never had a player win the Hornung Award. The last cornerback/returner to win the award was Georgia’s Brandon Boykin in 2011.
We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Bentley, as he will most likely be a key returner for the Illini and will look to improve a “weak” Illinois defense.
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