Williams dismissed from UI football team

CHAMPAIGN — Bennett Williams earned freshman All-American honors last season for the Illinois football team.

He won’t get the chance to earn any sort of accolades in 2018.

Team spokesman Derek Neal confirmed late Wednesday night that Illinois coach Lovie Smith has dismissed the sophomore safety from the program. 

The 6-foot, 205-pound California native began the 2018 season suspended for three games, the result of a team rules violation. Williams returned in the Sept. 21 home game against Penn State and played briefly before not traveling to last week’s road game versus Rutgers.

Williams was named an ESPN.com Freshman All-American and was a BTN.com All-Freshman Team selection last season. He played in 11 games and made seven starts at safety in 2017. Williams had 64 tackles, three interceptions, two pass breakups, one quarterback hurry and one forced fumble in his freshman season.

Lightly recruited out of high school, Illinois defensive coordinator Hardy Nickerson helped recruit Williams to the Illini after watching highlights of Williams on Facebook. Nickerson played college football at California with Williams’ dad, Garey. 

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