9 days to Camp Rantoul

9 days to Camp Rantoul

Counting down the 50 most important Illini.

No. 9: V'Angelo Bentley, CB

Why he’s important: The possibilities of what the Cleveland native can do when he fields a kickoff or punt are endless. A few juke moves here, a spin move there and he might have fooled the defense. The junior was dynamic in the return game last year for the Illini, becoming the first player in program history to return a kickoff and a punt back for a touchdown in the same season. He was the one Illinois player to consistently garner some preseason All-American recognition in the various publications because of his skill on special teams. Named to the Paul Hornug Award watch list earlier this summer — given to the country’s most versatile player — Bentley will look to continue his superb showing when he drops back deep for a kick. But also continued improvement when he lines up at cornerback. Bentley was the only cornerback to come away with an interception last season, securing the win at Purdue with his takeaway. He managed 22 tackles last season, including four for loss.

Fast fact: The military is a strong influence in Bentley’s life. His mother, Angela Pope, served two tours in Afghanistan before retiring from the Air Force after 25 years of service.

Last year’s ranking: No. 18

Tomorrow: No. 8

Previous rankings
No. 10: Aaron Bailey

No. 11: Teko Powell

No. 12: Matt LaCosse

No. 13: Geronimo Allison 

No. 14: Zane Petty

No. 15: Jon Davis

No. 16: Martize Barr

No. 17: Austin Teitsma

No. 18: Dawuane Smoot

No. 19: Kenny Nelson

No. 20: Justin Hardee

No. 21: Taylor Barton

No. 22: Donovonn Young

No. 23: Michael Heitz

No. 24: Alex Hill

No. 25: Jihad Ward

No. 26: Austin Schmidt

No. 27: Mikey Dudek

No. 28: Caleb Day

No. 29: Eaton Spence

No. 30: Mike Svetina

No. 31: Darius Mosely

No. 32: Justin DuVernois

No. 33: DeJazz Woods

No. 34: Taylor Zalewski

No. 35: Jaylen Dunlap

No. 36: Devin Church

No. 37: Tyrin Stone-Davis

No. 38: Paul James

No. 39: Jarrod Clements

No. 40: Joe Spencer

No. 41: Ralph Cooper

No. 42: B.J. Bello

No. 43: Jake Howe

No. 44: Joe Fotu

No. 45: Tyler White

No. 46: Zach Hirth 

No. 47: Eric Finney

No. 48: Zeph Grimes

No. 49: Carroll Phillips

No. 50: Clayton Fejedelem