Covering the Land of Lincoln

Illinois running back enters the NFL draft

CHAMPAIGN — Illinois running back Chase Brown has decided to skip the ReliaQuest Bowl and enter the NFL draft.

Brown had 1,643 yards rushing this season, tops among the Power Five conferences. He announced his future plans on Twitter on Friday.

Illinois (8-4) is scheduled to play No. 24 Mississippi State (8-4) on Jan. 2 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., in a matchup of Big Ten and Southeastern conference teams.

“Through the highs and lows, my time at Illinois has been the best experience of my life,” said Brown, a junior who started his college career at Western Michigan in 2018. “I earned a degree, advanced as an athlete, and formed lifelong connections.”

Brown will finish his career as the second leading rusher at Illinois with 3,558 yards, trailing Robert Holcombe (4,105 yards from 1994-97). His rushing yardage this season is third all-time at the school behind Mikel Leshoure (1,697 in 2010) and Rashard Mendenhall (1,681 yards in 2007). He set a school single-season record this year with 11 100-yard games.

Brown thanked his teammates for pushing him and his coaches for believing in him. Hey also thanked Illinois fans.

“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,” he wrote. “I will always bleed orange & blue.”

Safety Sydney Brown, Chase’s twin brother, announced Saturday that he would be skipping the bowl game and entering the draft, as did safety Devon Witherspoon, a consensus All-American.

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