WCIA — Chase Brown and Devon Witherspoon are both finalists for national awards. Brown is one of only three players remaining to win the Doak Walker Award, given to the country’s top running back. Witherspoon is one of three players left to win the Jim Thorpe Award, recognizing the nation’s top defensive back.

Brown is currently second in college football with 1,643 yards this season, leading the Power-5 in rushing start to finish in the regular season. He’s third in the country in all-purpose yards (1,883), second in rushes of 10+ yards (48) and is tied for third in 100-yard games with 10. Brown is Illinois’ first ever Doak Walker Award finalist since the award began in 1990. The Doak Walker Award presentation will take place on the SMU campus at the annual banquet scheduled for Feb. 17, 2023. 

The other Doak finalists are Blake Corum (Michigan) and Bijan Robinson (Texas).

Meanwhile, Witherspoon is the Illini’s first Jim Thorpe Award finalist, he’s competing with Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson (TCU) and Clark Phillips III (Utah) for the prestigious honor.

Witherspoon leads the nation in reception percentage against at 33.8%, forced incompletions at 16, is sixth in the country in passes defended with 17 and did not allow a touchdown all season, according to PFF.

The Paycom Jim Thorpe Award commemorative banquet is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023 in Oklahoma City.

Illinois Finalists – National College Football Awards Association 
2022 Thorpe – Devon Witherspoon, CB
2022 Doak – Chase Brown, RB
2013 Wuerrfel – Nathan Scheelhaase, QB
2011 Nagurski – Whitney Mercilus, DE
2007 Wuerrfel – J Leman, LB
2007 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year – Ron Zook, HC
2001 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year – Ron Turner, HC
1995 Butkus – Kevin Hardy, LB (winner)
1995 Nagurski – Kevin Brown, LB
1995 Bednarik – Simeon Rice, LB
1995 Bednarik – Kevin Hardy, LB
1994 Butkus – Dana Howard, LB (winner)
1994 FWAA Defensive Player of the Year – Dana Howard, LB
1990 Butkus – Darrick Brownlow, LB 
1989 Outland – Moe Gardner, DT
1989 O’Brien – Jeff George, QB
1985 O’Brien – Jack Trudeau, QB
1984 O’Brien – Jack Trudeau, QB
1982 O’Brien – Tony Eason, QB
1965 Heisman – Jim Grabowski, RB
1964 Heisman – Dick Butkus, LB