Sydney Brown, who missed two games earlier this season because of a leg injury, is making up for lost time. The Canadian had 10 tackles against Michigan and is looking for a big game Saturday when the Illini host Wisconsin. Beat writer BOB ASMUSSEN sat down with the London, Ontario, native earlier this week to talk about his twin brother Chase, hairstyles, hockey and much more:
How often do you pretend to be your brother?
That’s funny. We’ll mess with the coaches every now and then. We’ll keep their heads spinning a little bit. There are times where I’ll go up to meetings and say, “Chase, just walk in the meeting and see if he catches it.” I think the coaches know at this point who my brother and I are. There are slight differences.
As I talk to you now, are you actually Sydney?
Because you are identical, have you had some fun with it?
It’s been amazing to have someone just like you. My brother is my best friend. Just the competition between me and him growing up has always been there.
Do you guys have twin sense, where you know what the other one is thinking?
We’ll have moments where we’ll be listening to a conversation and we’ll look at each other and we’re both thinking the exact same thing. We can finish each other’s sentences sometimes.You missed time this year because of an injury.
How are you feeling?
I’m great. At this point in the season, I’m ready to keep going, and I’m excited to play Wisconsin.
What was wrong and is it still a concern?
It’s not a concern anymore. I had a hamstring injury. It lingered on this summer. Going into fall camp, it pulled on me. I was running, going to catch somebody. I went to go plant, what I usually do. I felt a tight pull. Something I’ve never felt before. Something wasn’t right. Hamstrings, you can’t play around with them. You’ve got to do the time and come back when you can.
Chase was just ruled eligible to play after his transfer from Western Michigan. What does it mean to have your brother on the field?
I’m excited for him. It’s another opportunity for him to showcase his skillset. He’s going to do anything for the team. He’s selfless.
How did you react when you found out?
I’ll tell you how it went down. We were in special teams meetings and Coach (Lovie) Smith called Chase. Chase disappeared. I’m like, “Oh no, he’s in trouble.” He comes back in the meeting and he’s got a smirk on his face. I’m like, “OK, it must be something.” It didn’t even cross my mind about the whole eligibility thing. He comes down and sits beside me. I’m like, “Chase, what’s going on?” He goes, “I’m eligible.” I’m like, “There’s no way.” He’s pumped.
What was your advice to him before the opening kickoff last Saturday against Michigan?
I just told him, “You’ve been in this situation before. Just relax and play the ball you know.” I think he did great.
How much do you interact during the games?
I’ll chat with him. We always connect with each other on the sidelines.
Explain your hair.
It’s been like this since ninth grade. I didn’t know what to do, so I kept growing it. It just kept going. It became my look, and I kind of like it. My brother copies me.
Why did you pick Illinois?
I fell in love with the school itself. I love the culture here at Illinois and what Coach Smith has to offer. I love being at the University of Illinois.
How good is the football in Ontario?
If you’re an American looking on, you definitely wouldn’t say it’s the best football in the world. In Ontario, we’ve got some athletes who are going D-I every year. It’s getting there.Your dad, Darren Isaac, played in the CFL.
Do you prefer that version or the NFL?
I prefer the NFL. I like the American game because it’s faster. In the Canadian game, four or five receivers can come in motion at the same time. Its just weird to me.
As a kid, how often did you come to the U.S.?
I never really crossed the border very much. I’d come on little vacations with my grandparents to Boston. We were about three hours from Michigan.
Can you play hockey?
I can skate. I’m not a hockey player. I have tried it but it hasn’t gone my way.
What is your favorite hockey team?
Montreal Canadiens. Always been the case. Love them. I’ll watch them when I can.There are lot of Blackhawks and Blues fans on the football team.
Do you have hockey arguments in the locker room?
All the time.
Who is the one person, living or dead, you would most like to meet?
Muhammad Ali. Growing up, I was always into boxing. I was never able to see him fight, but you hear so much about him.
What is your favorite city in the U.S.?
I love Sarasota, Fla. I’ve spent my time there my junior and senior year of high school. I love the water. It’s relaxing.
How about your favorite city in Canada?
London. I love it.
You get to go to Ireland in two years. What do you think?
I’m in shock. The opportunity in front of us to go play in Europe, I think it’s amazing. The entire team is thankful. I didn’t know if I would ever go. I’m excited.
Why do you wear No. 30?
I didn’t pick it coming here. They just kind of assigned me the number. I came in late. It’s kind of grown on me. In high school, I wore No. 8.
Your brother wears 32.
I told him, “You should wear 30 on offense.” He didn’t want to do that.
How is school going?
I’m in marketing. I’m loving school.
What do you want to be doing 20 years from now?
Something in the business world.