Route to the Rose Bowl: Benn and Fred Davis

By Daniel Johnson Daily Illini

December 6, 2007

Champaign, IL (CSTV U-WIRE) -- Editor's note: This is the third of a four-part breakdown of the 2008 Rose Bowl between the Illini and Trojans. Tomorrow: linebackers.

Fred Davis

Fred Davis has finally come into his own as a tight end, and a receiver, at USC.

The Toledo, Ohio, native is closing up his final season with the Trojans and is having his most prolific year on the field. He leads the USC offense in receptions, receiving yards, touchdown receptions and has their longest catch, 63 yards, on the year.

After having only five touchdowns his first three years as a Trojan, Davis has already exceeded that total this season with seven. He has already eclipsed his yardage total from his first three years on campus, too, with his 794 yards and equaled his total number of receptions from his first three years, at 55, as well. With gaudy numbers like those, it's hardly a surprise to see him second-guessing whether he should be playing elsewhere.

"I felt like a wide receiver tonight," Davis told usctrojans.com after his two-touchdown performance against Washington State. "I was just glad to do anything I could to help us win, whether it was blocking, catching or whatever, as long as I help us win."

Consistency has also been working in Davis' favor this year, as he has caught five or more balls in seven of the Trojans' 12 games this year.

In addition to his receiving abilities, Davis is also an imposing blocker at 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds. The athletic senior has been rated as the top tight end prospect by ESPN, edging out two supremely gifted players that Illinois played this year in Martin Rucker and Travis Beckum.

"He's had a really steady career," Pete Carroll said about Davis. "He's always been a great blocker. He's one of the top tight ends in the country. It's great when we know we can go to him in tough situations and tonight was just that night for him. His athleticism was on display, just running by guys and over guys. He's another guy who stayed around and worked hard and stayed with it."

Arrelius Denn

Arrelious Benn's arrival on campus second semester of last school year may have been Ron Zook's biggest signing to date. Benn, by way of Dunbar High School, has more than fulfilled lofty expectations that came with graduating Dunbar early and coming to the University.

Before he was even under way in his first season in Champaign, Benn spoke of how he wanted to be involved in the offense.

"I want to be an impact player right away as far as the offense," Benn said during spring practices. "I'm pretty hard on myself sometimes, but I just want to take it game by game and become an impact player."

While he may not have had a huge impact in his first game as an Illini against Missouri, Benn started, catching five passes for 74 yards, and provided a glimpse of things to come. The freshman played consistently after the Mizzou game until facing Penn State in his first Big Ten home game.

Penn State drove downfield to start the game and converted on a Kevin Kelly field goal for the game's first score. Kelly proceeded to kick off on the next play to Benn, who was awaiting the kick at the Illini 10-yard line. Thirteen seconds and 90 yards later, Benn was in the north end zone of Memorial Stadium, electrifying the crowd on hand with his return and setting the tone for the rest of the game, and his season.

 

 

Benn closed his freshman campaign by being awarded Big Ten Freshman of the Year for his 49 reception, 596-yard season.

Benn knows his decision to come to campus early has paid off greatly for him, but it is something that he had in mind all along.

"That's why I graduated early from high school," Benn said in a press release. "To come here and show what I can do."

Stats RECEIVING GP No. Yds Avg TD Long Avg/G ------------------------------------------------- Benn, Arrelious 12 49 596 12.2 1 56 49.7 Davis, Fred 12 55 794 14.4 7 63 66.2

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