The Making Of Arrelious Benn

July 20th, 2010

Always working to give Bucs fans fresh, unique daily content, when others aren’t nearly as dedicated as the final days before training camp drag on, Joe spoke with Bob Asmussen of the Champaign (Ill.) News-Gazette, who is the paper’s primary beat writer covering the University of Illinois. Joe reached out to him to get some background on Bucs rookie wide receiver Arrelious Benn.

Asmussen writes for his paper’s Illini Web site, IlliniHQ.com, where Joe was featured in a story about the Bucs earlier this year.

Here is Asmussen’s perspective on Benn:

JoeBucsFan:  West-Central Florida isn’t much of a hotbed of Illini football and Illinois isn’t seen much on local TV sets outside of sporadic games on the Big Ten Network, especially after the Rose Bowl appearance two years ago. What made Benn such a special talent for the Illini?

Bob Asmussen:  A couple of things. First, he worked harder than anybody. Just look at him physically. You don’t get to be like that without a lot of time running, lifting and catching passes. Plus, he eats about as well as any football player I’ve come in contact with. When your best player is also your hardest worker that’s a great thing.

Second, he is extremely confident in his own ability, but isn’t a jerk about it. He basically thinks he will make every play and does it in such a convincing manner that you start to believe it too.

Joe:  Was there a particular play or a specific game that you watched Benn play at Illinois and first thought to yourself, “Wow, this guy’s going to get paid to play on Sundays?”

Bob:  Easy, freshman year against Penn State. First, he returned a kickoff for a touchdown. And later in the game, he had a spectacular catch and run for a touchdown, breaking away from several Penn State defenders. That play, to me, was his best at Illinois.

The first time I saw him on the Illinois campus was at a camp before his senior year in high school. He was catching everything and I turned to somebody and said, “That’s Jerry Rice.” Now, of course, that’s a stretch, but he was better than any receiver Illinois had at the time. Not even close.

Joe:  You stated previously you got to know Benn and his family pretty well. Can you flush out some of the details about what kind of a background he came from?

Bob:  It’s interesting. His mom, Denise Benn, is a wonderful person. She is one of the nicer parents I’ve dealt with during my time covering Illinois. And she hasn’t had an easy life. Arrelious’ older brother, Trulon Henry, spent part of Benn’s childhood in federal prison for armed robbery. The family is very open about it and Trulon has turned his life around. In fact, he will likely be a starting safety for Illinois this season after spending two years at a Chicago-area junior college. The brothers are very close and I think Trulon’s comeback has been inspiring to Arrelious.

Trulon was excited when he heard Arrelious was going to the Bucs. He thinks that’s a great fit.

Joe:  What is it on a personal level that may impress you about Benn or something that not many people may know? Is he a leader by vocal commands, or is he a leader by example? Is he just a lunchpail kind of a guy or is he flamboyant at all?

Bob:  He leads by example, but got more vocal later in his career. I think that’s pretty normal. He is a lunchpail guy who can be flamboyant. But not too much. Mom and his brother wouldn’t stand for it. He is very mature for his age, which probably is due in part to the difficult background. I thought he seemed like an adult as a freshman. He is easy to talk to and always has a smile. But he is also very self-critical. When he has a bad game and the team loses, you can tell that it hurts.

Joe:  From your research and knowledge and insight, how would you project Benn to be as an NFL wide receiver, say, five years down the road? What trait does he have that suggests he will be a survivor or a stud in the league?

Bob:  I think he has a chance to be an All-Pro. He has the physical skills and the mental makeup. And he is tough, playing through injuries during his Illinois career. I think he will get better. I’m guessing he will have the usual growing pains his first season, then blossom as a second-year player. You see that so often with receivers in the NFL. Once he gets going, he can be a 100-catch guy if that’s what the Bucs want to do with him. I’d think he is much more likely be a star than he is to be a bust.

12 Responses to “The Making Of Arrelious Benn”

  1. Gary Says:

    Great post Joe. Thats why you are the man for researching like this. I have to admit I am a little scared that we didn’t hear much about him during OTAs. Seemed everything was about Williams making spectacular catches, and nothing about Benn.

    Lets hope they compliment each other on sundays. Williams the game breaker and Benn the solid consistent YAC guy.

  2. JimBuc Says:

    Awesome post Joe! Thanks for the great insight!

  3. eric Says:

    Seems like a great kid.

  4. Buc em down Says:

    Sounds like a man. Maybe they should look into his brother. Lets face it, the Bucs love redemtion songs.

  5. Joe Says:

    You are welcome JimBuc!

    You should instead thank Asmussen. He was kind enough to give Joe a few moments of his time while on vacation.

  6. RustyRhino Says:

    A Cool couple of article’s you have done Joe, Brian Price & Arrelious Benn. Thanks for the information. How about a report on the connection of McCoy & Miller back before college ball, i read that they played together before going off to college and where going to go to same college but that got befuddled. More info on this would be interesting.

  7. Fish Says:

    I agree. I really like these posts. An in-depth perspective from someone who has been really paying attention and studying these particular guys throughout college (and even a little in high school).

    We’ve heard all the overlapping scout info – this is more of a personal look. Thanks Joe. Maybe we can get a look at a few more rookie’s in this format? Maybe someone like Myron Lewis? Nobody talks about him, much.

    I also agree with Gary. It seems like we heard a lot about Williams in camp, which is great, but not much about Benn. Hopefully, that says more about Williams than it does Benn (which I hope and think is the case).

  8. Kevin Says:

    I’m an Illinois Alumni and a huge fan of Benn (and Illinois Football). I can’t say that I’ve ever met him, but I have had a chance to meet Denise Benn during an away game that I attended during Benn’s Freshman year. What Bob says is absolutely dead on about the family – there were 10 plus members of his family there to support Regus, and were a very warm and friendly group. Also agree with Bob about the Penn State game. If you’ve seen a Been highlight reel, then you’ve seen the catch where he just sheds would-be tacklers left and right.

    @ Gary and Fish – You heard a lot more about Williams because the pads weren’t on yet. Williams has greater acceleration and speed than Benn and is built to excel at OTAs. Just wait until the pads are on and Benn can show off his YAC skills – that is where his true value lies. FYI – I think Mike Williams is going to be a great receiver as well – he and Benn just have different qualities.

  9. Joe Says:

    Kevin:

    Welcome.

    I’m an Illinois Alumni

    KAMS or CODs?

  10. Kevin Says:

    Hi Joe – thanks for the welcome.

    And the answer is KAM’s, of course.

  11. Joe Says:

    Kevin:

    There used to be a place in Champaign not that far from the mushroom called “O’Malley’s.” I’m told that place has been shut down for some time, or maybe renamed. You remember that joint?

  12. Kevin Says:

    Joe –

    Ah yes. I didn’t frequent O’Malley’s that often, but it was open when I left CU. I was at U of I from 1998-2001. My favorite was Jillian’s in Champaign off Neil Street. Video games, pool, darts – and hot waitresses. All the things a college guy could ask for in a bar.

 
 

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