Top Power 5 rusher Brown leaves Illinois for draft

by Ricardo Gutierrez - Chase Brown, ranked as the No. 9 running back in the draft, is going pro and will skip Illinois' bowl game.

Illinois' Chase Brown entering NFL draft, led Power 5 in rushing play Chase Brown gives Illinois the lead with 37-yard TD (0:34) Chase Brown breaks free and goes 37 yards to the house for an Illinois touchdown. (0:34) 1:22 PM ET Blake BaumgartnerESPN Staff Writer Illinois junior running back Chase Brown is entering the 2023 NFL draft and will not play in the ReliaQuest Bowl on Jan. 2 against No. 22 Mississippi State , the school announced Friday. Brown, ranked as the No. 9 running back in the draft by ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., thanked his family, teammates, coaches and fans in a tweet announcing his decision . "Through the high and lows, my time at Illinois has been the best experience of my life," Brown wrote. "I earned a degree, advanced as an athlete, and formed lifelong connections." Brown led the Power 5 and was third in the FBS this season with 1,643 rushing yards along with 10 touchdowns. The first running back in program history to be named a Doak Walker Award finalist, Brown leaves Champaign as the school's second leading career rusher (3,558 yards from 2019-22) behind Robert Holcombe (4,105 yards from 1994-97) and with the third-highest single-season rushing total behind Mikel Leshoure (1,697 yards in 2010) and Rashard Mendenhall (1,681 yards in 2007). Brown's twin brother Sydney , a defensive back for the Illini, announced he was entering the draft Saturday. He is listed as Kiper's No. 7 safety and also will not play in the bowl game.