College Chaps @geosomerville recently had the opportunity to interview ex LSU wide receiver DJ Chark during the NFL Academy day held at Tottenham Hotspur FC. DJ graduated from LSU in 2017 and was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the 61st pick of the 2018 draft. He will travel back to London in October to face the Houston Texans.
During your time at LSU, you wore the #7 jersey which is a pretty iconic jersey. How did it feel getting that jersey, did it feel like a pressure to wear that?
Yeah, definitely. It comes with more than people realise. Definitely at LSU with the type of fans we have it’s win or nothing, you know? So with the 7 on your back you definitely have way big a target than anybody else on the field. So every time the LSU fans look down and see 7 on the field they are expecting the big plays, even if they don’t know who you are. But one thing I can say is that it comes with a lot of responsibility but it also comes with a lot of gems and perks too. Your team gravitates towards you and it’s just an honour and its prestigious. And it’s a good tradition at LSU.
In the same way, you came through as a wide receiver from a long line of wide receivers. Were there unrealistic expectations following Beckham and Landry or did you just do your own thing?
I think at times there could be unrealistic expectations, simply because we played in different offences. Where things might have been different at the time for them but were different for us. But at the end of the day I wasn’t really paying any attention to the expectations. I just wanted to win and I knew to get to the next level I had to do good. So every day me and my receivers, I got real close to the receivers that we had at LSU, we just worked hard. We didn’t really worry about living up to anybody else’s expectations. We set our own expectations. We went out every week and performed the way we felt like we were supposed to perform. And that’s something that’s there now. Those guys not living up to my expectations or living up to Odell and Jarvis. I feel we established that connection that you go out there and you play for our team and I think thats what they’re doing now – they’ve got a good group of guys in that room.
You really came alive in your Junior year and then in your Senior year you absolutely blew up. What was the change between Junior and Senior year’s when you really came on to the stage where everyone was taking notice of you?
Junior year was my first time really playing and going into my senior year I knew what was expected of me and my team. My team really needed me and I continued to put in the work and stepped up. And in game situations I was called upon way more than in Junior year. So I think it was just more exposure, being a more significant part of the offence in my senior year and just answering that bell when my name was called.
You got the opportunity to play under Coach Miles and also Coach O. Was there a difference between two very different characters? Did you see a real difference in the locker room?
Oh definitely, two different styles of coaching, two different guys but both of them great in their own way. I love Coach Miles, his smiles are bigger and he’s a personable coach. And when Coach O took over we had a little more – things changed a little bit – like more freedom. But with the freedom that he gave us he cracked down in other areas. So I think it was like a balancing see-saw. It was different, definitely adjusting to them. But at the end of the day both of them were passionate. Everyone knows Coach O is full of passion and he wears his heart on his sleeve. I think that was something different for us. Going in to every game it felt like Coach O was going to go out there and strap his helmet on and play with you if he could. So you know, it changed a little bit, but at the end of the day we knew both coaches were great.
I was at the NFLUK event the other night and you said, growing up, a player you took a lot of inspiration from was Amari Cooper. Does this mean you were a Bama fan growing up!
NO! Not at all. It’s just I like the way he played. One thing you’ve got to know I love football, I love the game of football – so if there is talent at a rival school or another team I’m still going to know this talent. When I was at LSU and Amari Cooper was at Bama, everyone still knew Amari Cooper was amazing and the best receiver in College at the time. So whenever I was on scout team for my first few years I would have to be Amari Cooper watching him, watching the way he plays, trying to be a game changer in practice and things like that. I wasn’t a Bama fan, but I was an Amari Cooper fan.
Well I’m going to the LSU/ Bama game in November so it sounds like I’m in for a bit of a treat?
Oh yeah, definitely. Every year it’s a hyped up game and we haven’t really done what we were supposed to do in a while. But I think at this point everybody knows, so that those guys coming in to the game are going to be hyped up and ready to play. Hopefully, we get the win this year.
Thanks to DJ Chark for taking the time out to talk to us at the National Flag Football Championships at Tottenham Hotspur Football Stadium. Special thanks to the Jacksonville Jaguars Communications team for helping with this interview.
You can follow DJ Chark on Twitter @DJChark82, Jacksonville Jaguars @Jaguars and Tigers Football @LSUfootball #GEAUXTIGERS
Photo credit : Breakingfootball.com ; @kadeemsimmons