Sydney Brown carving out role in Illini defensive backfield


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Freshman defensive back Sydney Brown isn’t putting much weight into his lack of notoriety.

Originally from Ontario, Canada, Brown’s signing came as a bit of a surprise to Illini fans.

“Honestly, I didn’t have that many. I only four offers,” he said. “Tulane, South Dakota and then Illinois.”

The three-star recruit spent his last two years of high school at St. Stephens in Bradenton, Florida. He waited until signing day to make it official with the Illini.

“I don’t think offers show what kind of player you are, right? I’m a hard worker myself and I try to bring that to the table every day,” he added.

“You never know how guys develop. So, there could be a guy that’s highly recruited that comes into college and doesn’t perform well,” defensive backs coach Gill Byrd explained. “A guy that nobody thinks is going to do anything comes into college and performs well.”

And that’s just what Brown is doing. He’s spent fall camp taking reps with the first string defense at nickelback.

“Coming from high school, myself, it was definitely a big adjustment in that part,” Brown said. “Just adjusting to how fast the players are and how fast the game moves itself. I feel like I’m adjusting well.”

“The thing with all our freshmen is that we have to get these guys to be consistently good, consistently excellent. They show spurts,” Byrd added.

Brown is showing enough flashes of potential that he’ll likely play a big role in the Illini’s young secondary that finished ninth in the Big Ten in interceptions last year.

“He’s a joy to work with,” Byrd continued. “He’s a guy that likes to learn. He loves the game. He enjoys the game.”

“I didn’t come in with any expectations,” Brown said. “I didn’t expect to play early but I’m just giving it my all in practice and hopefully when the season comes I can get some playing time.”

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