Illinois’ Chase, Sydney Brown have one last shot together to put the ‘winning’ in ‘twinning’

After 10 losing seasons in a row, Illini fans are overdue for a good few months. The Brown brothers are going to have as big a say in it as anyone.

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Illinois brothers Sydney (left) and Chase Brown at Big Ten media days in Indianapolis.

Patrick Pierson | Illinois Athletics

llinois’ Chase Brown and Sydney Brown are much too close to hold their on-field altercations against each other. Same goes for their off-field altercations. They have their own set of rules, to which siblings — let alone twins — have been entitled since the dawn of time.

Yell. Push and shove. Punch? Sure, it happens (kind of a lot). Forgive instantly. Love always.

That about sums it up.

“We do get into our moments,” said Sydney, a safety who has started 38 games and led the Illini in tackles last season with 81, “but I’d never hit him in a weak spot.”

“That’s my guy,” said Chase, a running back who began his career at Western Michigan but has been a third-team All-Big Ten selection each of the last two seasons. “Been with him since we were born.”

That’s not counting the two minutes that elapsed on March 21, 2000, before Sydney officially joined Chase in the world, which raises a question: Wouldn’t Chase be a better name for twin No. 2?

Never mind that. What’s important here is that if the Illini are going to move up in Year 2 under coach Bret Bielema, the Brown brothers are going to have as big a say in it as anyone. Chase, who rushed for 257 and 223 yards, respectively, in victories against Charlotte and Penn State last season, is the focal point of the offense. Sydney is a piece without which the Illini probably couldn’t match, let alone improve upon, their defensive performance of last season.

They are tough, smart, confident players who are so similar, it’s almost like they’re identical.

“What separates Chase from other guys is his preparation, his mindset, his determination to be the best and the work ethic within all that,” Sydney said. “I’m very driven in the same way. I’m in love with the process, I’d say. I’m addicted to seeing results, no matter how little the improvements are.”

Illini players would be wise to follow the Browns’ lead throughout training camp, and the nice thing is that it’s easier to tell the twins from London, Ontario (halfway between Toronto and Detroit) apart than it used to be.

In their first season together in Champaign, they had the same hairstyle, the same overall style. These days, Chase wears his hair in shoulder-length twists and is a recent dabbler in the tattoo department.

“Part of me was like, ‘Oh, my God, how could he do that?’ “ Sydney said. “[Looking alike] was something we always had. But, at the end of the day, he’s his own person. Whatever he does, wants, I’ll support that 100%.”

Both have been impressed with Bielema, who replaced former Bears coach Lovie Smith at a school where one coach after another has failed to move the needle in a meaningful way.

“The way Coach B handles every single hiccup in the program is like nothing I’ve seen before,” Chase said. “He keeps what’s good in the building, and he gets what’s bad out of it. He doesn’t leave a stone unturned or a page unread, and he does things right.”

After 10 losing seasons in a row, Illini fans are overdue for a good few months. However it plays out, the Browns are down to their final chance to play and win together.

“We wouldn’t be in the position we are without each other,” Sydney said.

Fight on, brothers.

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