Devon Witherspoon and Sydney Brown made it official Saturday that both players are heading for the 2023 NFL Draft. In order to begin preparing for the draft, both star defensive backs will not play in the ReliaQuest Bowl.

On Saturday, Illinois held a press conference with both players addressing the decision. Both players were understandably emotional while discussing the impact of their time in Champaign and head coach Bret Bielema.

Brown said the past few years under Bielema have significantly changed his life. He also admitted to feeling a bit selfish about his decision to opt-out of the bowl game because he’s always tried to put his teammates first throughout his career.

Weatherspoon took time to publicly thank Bielema at the press conference for his work with the Illini the past two seasons. He also addressed having a plaque in Grange Grove and getting remembered by the program down the road.

While Illinois will miss having the duo on the field in the bowl game, there’s no denying the two left a lasting impact during their time in Champaign.