Position coach Justin Hill sees him in the Paycor Stadium multi-purpose room walking through the next day’s practice script.
His high school coach in Bradenton, Fla., Tod Creneti remembers him doing at least one extra thing every day during his careers at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School and the University of Illinois.
His fellow Bengals rookies, wide receivers Andrei Iosivas and Charlie Jones, help him make about 120 catches off the machine after each practice when they clear four racks of footballs three times.
The thing is, Bengals rookie running back Chase Brown already knew all those things would happen and at approximately those times because since his junior year at Illinois he writes down everything he plans to do the next day on a sheet of notebook paper.
“I’m a routine person,” says Brown, who set his alarm an hour later Thursday morning because the schedule began an hour later. “I know how important consistency is. When I didn’t do things consistently, those little losses would add up and that’s what changed me. The little wins. Setting yourself a schedule, going through a schedule chronologically. Just doing what you say you’re going to do on a daily basis. And those little things, the little wins turn into big things and big wins and at the end of the day, you see improvement in yourself.”
If it sounds like Brown, the fifth-rounder everyone is rooting for, has already been around the NFL for a few years, offensive coordinator Brian Callahan agrees.
“He’s already a pro,” Callahan says. “He had a pro’s mindset in college. Great character with a great work ethic and those things will translate well.”
But just once, Creneti would like Brown to stop writing down what he’s going to do and reflect on what he’s already written.
How he and twin Sydney have overcome a crushing cycle of poverty and family illness to become two of the top 163 players in the draft. How they left their homes just outside Toronto, went to Florida to find a chance for a new life and never lost a game as St. Stephen’s won its first two Independent School state titles. How Chase became a Doak Award finalist with a hellacious 1,600-yard season on five yards a pop to put him on the brink of becoming Illinois’ all-time rusher before he opted for the draft.
“There is no part of him that is comfortable with not being prepared as much as possible,” Creneti says. “When you think about the amount of uncertainty they grew up with, both of them have done everything they can to eliminate uncertainty from their lives. One of the ways they do that is, no surprises, they’re going to be ready. They’re going to make sure they’ve done everything they can to be as prepared as possible.”