Star Canadian RB Chase Brown opts out of Illinois’ bowl game, declares for 2023 NFL Draft

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Star Canadian running back Chase Brown will not play for the University of Illinois in the upcoming ReliaQuest Bowl and will instead declare for the 2023 NFL Draft.

The London, Ontario native made the announcement on Friday via a statement posted to social media. His identical twin brother, Illinois safety Sydney Brown, made a similar announcement on Saturday, December 17, though he did not need to officially declare for the draft after exhausting his NCAA eligibility. Chase has one year of eligibility remaining due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The full statement can be read below.


First, I want to thank God for blessing me and putting me in this position. Through the highs and lows, my time at Illinois has been the best experience of my life. I earned a degree, advanced as an athlete, and formed lifelong connections.

TO MY FAMILY: I’d like to express my gratitude to my Mother, Grandmother, Brother, Yates family, Cross family, as well as all extended family for their unwavering love and support throughout this journey. You helped shape me into the man I am today. Without you, none of this would be possible.

TO MY TEAMMATES: Thank you for pushing me every day. Our memories and bonds formed through highs and lows will last a lifetime. It has been a pleasure to play alongside each of you.

TO MY COACHES: Thank you for believing in me. Your dedication to excellence pushed me to become the player I am today. The life lessons and leadership skills you taught me have made me a better man.

TO ILLINI NATION: Thank you for all of your help and for welcoming me to this wonderful university. Your dedication, passion, and love for this team are greatly appreciated. It has been an honor and a memorable experience to play for you all. I will always bleed orange & blue, After careful consideration, I have decided to forego the upcoming bowl game and enter the 2023 NFL DRAFT.

I-L-L, Chase Brown

Brown took home the Jon Cornish Trophy as Canada’s top NCAA player following a sensational 2022 season. He carried the ball 328 times for 1,643 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground while adding 27 receptions for 240 yards and three more scores through the air. That was good enough to be named a finalist for the Doak Walker Award as college football’s top running back after finishing second in the nation in rushing yards.

The five-foot-11, 205-pound ball carrier finishes his college career having rushed for 3,558 yards and 18 touchdowns on 676 carries over 47 games with Illinois and Western Michigan. Brown is currently projected as a fourth-round NFL Draft pick according to media consensus boards, with the chance to rise throughout the pre-draft process.

Illinois (8-4) will play No. 22 Mississippi State (8-4) on January 2, 2023, at 12:00 p.m. EST for the ReliaQuest Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. While the Fighting Illini will be without their star Canadian twins, they will have one impact starter from north of the border still in the lineup thanks to left guard Isaiah Adams — a transfer from Wilfrid Laurier.