Chase Brown Named to Maxwell Award Watch 

By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Football Writer/Analyst

July 18, 2022

(Cover photo courtesy Rich Barnes/USA Today Sports)

It should come as no surprise the projected starting tailback in Bret Bielema’s Illinois program is one of the nation’s 85 players expected to be big contributors for the upcoming 2022 season.

Illinois tailback Chase Brown was named to the preseason watch list for the Maxwell Award on Monday among 84 other players and 13 players in the Big Ten Conference.

Brown, a 205-pound junior from London, Ontario, is coming off a 2021 season where he finished with 1,005 yards on 170 carries and five touchdowns and slotted third in the Big Ten last season at 100.5 rushing yards per game and was fifth in the conference and 29th nationally at 5.9 rushing yards per carry.

Brown was also named by Illinois athletics as one of the three players who will be joining Big Ten Media Days in Indianapolis, the Big Ten Conference announced Monday. The Big Ten teams will be split between July 26-27 with Illinois' day on July 27. Bielema's media day press conference is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. CT on Wednesday, July 27 on Big Ten Network.

Brown had a pair of 200-yard games last season (Oct. 2 vs. Charlotte and Oct. 23 at Penn State) to join Howard Griffith (1990) and Rashard Mendenhall (2007) as the only players in Illinois history with multiple 200-yard games in a single season. In Bret Bielema’s seven seasons as head coach at Wisconsin, the Badgers churned out a 1,000-yard rusher eight times and his return to the Big Ten in Champaign saw Brown become another tailback to top the 1,000-yard mark and was complimented by then-freshman Josh McCray averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Brown was one of 25 tailbacks on the Maxwell Award watch list including Syracuse sophomore Sean Tucker, Texas junior Bijan Robinson and Wisconsin sophomore Braelon Allen.

The Big Ten's other dozen Maxwell Award nominees included three from Ohio State and two from Michigan State. The full list includes Allen, Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, Michigan running back Blake Corum, Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne and wide receiver Jayden Reed, Minnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim, Northwestern running back Evan Hull, Ohio State quarterback, C.J. Stroud, wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba and running back TreVeyon Henderson, Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford and Purdue quarterback Aidan O'Connell.

The list also included Texas-San Antonio quarterback Frank Harris, who was tutored last season by new Illinois offensive coordinator Barry Lunney Jr., in a 2021 campaign that finished with Harris setting UTSA single-season records for passing yards (3,177), completions (398), touchdowns (27), attempts (263), completion percentage (.661), passing efficiency (152.5), total offense (3,743) and touchdowns responsible for (33).

The Maxwell Award is presented annually to the top player in college football as voted upon by NCAA coaches, Maxwell Football Club members and media members across the country. The last three winners have also won the Heisman Trophy including Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith and LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.

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