WCIA — Illinois junior Chase Brown is the first ever Doak Walker National Running Back of the Week. The Illini junior carried the ball 36 times for 199 yards in last Friday’s 23-20 loss at Indiana, becoming the first player in program history to run for 150+ yards in the first two games of the season. Brown’s 36 carries are the most in a game for the Illini since 2004, a great accomplishment but it also raises some concern for injury. With Brown’s back-up Josh McCray sidelined with an injury, Illinois head coach Bret Bielema is looking for more depth in the backfield, calling upon Chase Hayden, Reggie Love III and Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley grad and Illini freshman Aidan Laughery to step up.

“Chase and Reggie this week, we’ve got to get them a tremendous amount of work so that they feel confident and everybody else feels confident when they possibly enter the game,” Bielema said. “But I’m excited for Reggie, excited for Chase Hayden and Aidan to see exactly what they’ve got this week because we definitely can’t put a 30-plus carry on Chase Brown every week.”

Brown was named a Doak Walker Award preseason candidate in July, a semifinalist list will be released on Nov. 22, with three finalists a week later. The annual award recognizes the nation’s top running back.