The last year for LSU WR D.J. Chark of Alexandria has been one "Wow" moment after another

Glenn Guilbeau
The Daily Advertiser
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LSU wide receiver D.J. Chark (82) catches a pass for a touchdown over Auburn wide receiver Kyle Davis (11), but the play was ruled a no play as time ran out to end the game during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016, in Auburn, Ala. Auburn won 18-13 (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

HOOVER, Ala — If D.J. Chark lives through any more out-of-body experiences, he may develop a dependency problem.

For the LSU senior wide receiver from Alexandria Senior High, life has been a series of “wows” for the last year right up through this week at the Southeastern Conference Media Days.

“I was watching one of our games from last year on the SEC Network the other night, and I saw a catch that I didn’t even remember I caught,” he told reporters during the Media Days marathon of press conferences at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Alabama. “And I was like, ‘Man, that’s really me out there.’ So, it’s still like a dream.”

READ MORE:Can Chark Put Alexandria On The Map Again?

Such euphoric moments are explainable considering Chark’s past. He played in six games as a freshman in 2014 and five more in 2015, but he did not record one catch. That after being the talk of the previous spring each year.

“Everybody heard about me in the spring,” he said. “It was constantly, ‘The Spring Superstar,’ but you won’t see any production. And so, when I finally got my chance to make some plays, I was just excited to play football. Every game, I’m just excited like it’s high school football again.”

Chark, a three-star prospect out of ASH, caught 48 passes for 554 yards and three touchdowns as a prep senior in 2013. He did get a touch in the 2015 season, but it was not from a pass. He roared 79 yards for a touchdown on an end around in the Tigers’ 56-27 win over Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl. He finally caught his first pass in game two last season for 12 yards in the 34-13 win over Jacksonville State. He caught three more for 52 yards with a 37-yard touchdown in the 23-20 win over Mississippi State in game three.

Then, at Auburn, he finished with three catches for 11 yards and a 35-yard run. His best moment, though, did not happen in real time. It was an out-of-clock experience. He brilliantly toed the inbounds line in the end zone corner for the apparent game-winning catch on a 15-yard pass from quarterback Danny Etling at Auburn for a 19-18 victory as time expired. But time had actually expired before LSU was able to get the snap off, and Auburn won, 18-13. LSU coach Les Miles was fired the next day. Ed Orgeron took over on an interim basis, then permanently after the regular season.

It was a dark day at Auburn, but a bright moment for Chark nevertheless.

“When I watched that Auburn catch again, I was like, ‘Wow, I caught that,’” he said. “You know, you see things like that happen, and it gives you confidence.”

But he never lost the wow factor as he continued to be a weapon with three catches for 58 yards and two rushes for 26 yards in the 42-7 win over Missouri, three more for 91 yards and an 80-yard touchdown with a 19-yard touchdown run in the 45-10 win over Southern Mississippi, three for 45 yards with a 40-yard touchdown in the 38-21 win over Ole Miss and three for 45 yards in the 10-0 loss to No. 1 Alabama.

Then against Florida, he rushed three times for 51 yards and caught two passes for 46 yards in the 16-10 loss. His wow moment happened at crunch time again, though, on fourth and 10 from the Florida 48 with less than two minutes to play. Etling hit him for a 30-yard gain to the Gators’ 18. The Tigers reached a first and goal at the 7-yard line with 50 seconds to go, but could not finish the job. Chark, though, continued to believe more and more that it was actually his body making all these plays.

“I just remember the Florida game — the fourth down,” he said. “It was like, ‘Boom!’ At that point, I can compete. I knew I could compete. Those two plays against Auburn and that one, really showed me that I could really be a name.”

But not an early departure for the NFL Draft.

“I’m coming out and I’m playing,” he said. There were another three catches for 59 yards in the 54-39 win over Texas A&M to end the regular season.

“And toward the end of the season, people are like, ‘So, you getting your draft grade?’ And I’m like, ‘My draft grade?’ ‘Yeah, for the NFL.’ And in my head, I feel like I’m still a freshman," he said. "This is my first year of really playing, and I’m not really looking into that right now. At first it was far-fetched, and then as the season ended, it became more realistic. So I had to start accepting it.”

And Chark began to seriously consider leaving a year early as a junior as did more high-profile teammate Malachi Dupre, who led LSU in receiving in 2016 with 41 catches for 593 yards and three touchdowns with a 14.5-yard per catch average. Chark finished with 26 catches for 466 yards and three touchdowns with a 17.9-yard average per catch along with 122 rushing yards on 12 carries. Dupre caught seven passes for 139 yards in the Tigers’ 29-9 upset of No. 13 Louisville in the Citrus Bowl, but he would go only in the seventh and final round of the draft.

Orgeron, ever the recruiter, convinced Chark to stay for his senior season. He had to. Had Chark left, the leading returning receiver would have been senior Russell Gage with five catches for 62 yards.

“D.J. was really thinking about going to the NFL,” Orgeron said at Media Days. “And I told him, ‘There are bigger and better things, and if you come back, then I’ll make sure that I put you in the best position possible to have success.’”

Still, this didn’t hit Chark, who at 6-foot-3 and 187 pounds is one of the fastest players on the team, until he went to a receivers meeting a few weeks after the bowl. In addition to Dupre gone, so was senior Travin Dural, who is now a free agent with the New Orleans Saints.

“I looked around,” he said. “I didn’t see Travin or Malachi. And I’m like, ‘Who’s going to be the second receiver?’ I was always the second and third receiver. I’m looking around and I say, ‘Man, it’s different here.’”

READ MORE: Chark On Canada: 'I heard he's brilliant'

LSU and new offensive coordinator Matt Canada will be looking for that second and third receiver beginning July 31 when practice starts for the 2017 season and the opener against Brigham Young on Sept. 2 in Houston.

It still has not completely dawned on Chark that he is the man of LSU’s receivers and one of the top players on the team. He had no idea he would be invited to SEC Media Days.

“I was talking to Coach O a while back, and I asked him when he was leaving for Media Days,” Chark said. “And he was like, ‘When are WE leaving for Media Days?’ And I didn’t catch it at first. I was like, ‘Yeah, when are you leaving for Media Days?’ And he said, ‘No, when are WE leaving for Media Days?’ And I said, ‘Ohh! OK. So, when are WE leaving for Media Days?’ So that’s how I found out, and I was real excited. I was definitely surprised.”

Chark’s mother, Shirley Chark, got him a new suit along with suede shoes and striped socks for the occasion.

“This is a big honor,” D.J. Chark said. “I remember watching Media Days when I was a freshman and the last two years, trying to hear if my name would be called. And just the fact to actually be here talking to you guys, it’s very humbling. To see big time guys like Leonard Fournette and Tre’Davious White come here, and now to know, you’re good enough to play. It’s really an honor to represent my team like this. It’s a great feeling.”

Glenn Guilbeau covers LSU sports for the USA Today Network of Louisiana. Follow his stories on Twitter at @LSUBeatTweet.Coverage of LSU and commentary by Guilbeau supported by Hebert’s Town & Country Automobile Dealer in Shreveport located at 1155 East Bert Kouns Loop. Research your next Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep or Ram at

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