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Canadian Illinois' Brown brothers forgo ReliaQuest Bowl to prepare for NFL Draft

Chase Brown and Sydney Brown Chase Brown and Sydney Brown - The Canadian Press

Canadian brothers Chase and Sydney Brown of the University of Illinois announced on Twitter that they will be forgoing the Fighting Illini's upcoming ReliaQuest Bowl game against the No. 24 Mississippi State Bulldogs to prepare for the 2023 NFL Draft. 

"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," said Chase in an open statement to Illini fans on Twitter. 

"The past 5 years have been filled with so many ups and downs that have helped me become the man I am today. You have blessed me with your continuous love and loyalty. It has been. an honor to wear the block I and represent the special group of Alumni who have paved the way for Illinois Football before me. While we did not achieve the overall goal, my brothers and coaches have fought and produced results that will be a pedestal for success to those who will wear the block I on their chest in the future. The goal is to become a championship program and that will never change," said Sydney on Twitter. 

The natives of London, Ont., leave behind respective impressive collegiate resumes. 

Chase led the Power Five as a running back with 1,643 yards in 12 games for the Fighting Illini. He finished second overall in NCAA rushing yards to the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s DeWayne McBride (1,713 yards). He was named the unanimous winner of the 2022 Jon Cornish Trophy as the top Canadian player in NCAA Football. 

A finalist for the Doak Walker Award, which honours the top running back in the nation, Chase also recorded 27 receptions for 240 yards and three touchdowns, earning All-Big Ten Second Team honours. 

Sydney, a defensinve back for the Fighting Illini,  racked up his fair share of accolades for his performance on the defensive side of the ball as well. He earned First Team All-Big Ten Coaches and Second Team All-Big-Ten Media Honours and was also named a finalist for the 2022 Jon Cornish Trophy. 

Sydney finished the season with 40 solo tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and was tied for second in the FBS with six interceptions.  

The brothers combined to help lead the Fighting Illini to an 8-4 record - their best season since 2007 - and second place in the Big Ten West.