CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois running back Chase Brown is opting out of the ReliaQuest Bowl game to pursue NFL draft prep. Brown is not the only Illini that will not be playing in the Bowl game to prepare for the NFL draft.

Defensive backs Sydney Brown and Devon Witherspoon were the first two on the Illinois football team to declare for the NFL draft. Following them, tight end Luke Ford will be doing the same. Defensive lineman Johnny Newton said he will definitely be playing in the Bowl game on January 2nd.

Here’s what Chase Brown said in his tweet announcement:

“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.