42 days to Camp Rantoul
Counting down the 50 most important Illini.
No. 42: B.J. Bello, LB
Why he’s important: Going on his third position during his Illini career, the Lincoln-Way West graduate was moved back to an inside linebacker spot after operating last year at the STAR position. The Illinois coaches didn’t feel the hybrid linebacker/defensive back role suited Bello well, who came to Illinois intent on playing a role in the secondary. But he has bulked up since arriving in Champaign-Urbana, making the move to an inside linebacker spot the logical choice for the Illini coaching staff. Bello played sparingly last season, racking up four tackles and only playing in four games, all in a backup role. He had a decent spring, culminating with a sack in the spring game. If injuries fell Earnest Thomas, Mason Monheim or T.J. Neal, Bello could be next in line to fill a starting spot among the linebackers.
Fast fact: The cousin of former Illinois defensive back Supo Sanni is the first Lincoln-Way West product to play for the Illini since the suburban Chicago school out of New Lenox opened in 2009.
Last year’s ranking: No. 49
Tomorrow: No. 41
No. 43: Jake Howe