LSU will retain at least one of its talented wide receivers.
Junior D.J. Chark plans to return for his senior season, he announced Monday, assuring that the Tigers will keep a significant player at a position that could be losing plenty.
In a tweet announcing his decision, Chark indicated he'll be changing numbers, too. He suggested he'll take former running back Leonard Fournette's No. 7.
"After long conversations with my family, as well as my magnificent mentor and coach, Coach (Dameyune Craig), I decided to return to LSU for my senior season and finish what I started," Chark wrote in the tweet.
Geaux Tigers 🐯 #7 pic.twitter.com/sQA3xIecIr— DJ Chark (@DJChark82) January 9, 2017
Chark, an Alexandria native, evolved this season into one of quarterback Danny Etling’s favorite targets, a deep threat who broke out in his third year with the program. Known to be one of the team’s fastest players, Chark led LSU’s top three receivers — Malachi Dupre, Chark and Travin Dural — in yards per catch at 17.9 and tied for the team lead with three touchdown catches.
He had no receptions in his first two seasons with the Tigers. His 26 catches this season were third on the team behind Dupre (41) and Dural (28). LSU may lose both Dupre and Dural; Dural is a senior, and Dupre, a draft-eligible junior like Chark, is debating his future. After LSU’s Citrus Bowl win over Louisville on Dec. 31, Dupre said he was undecided.
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Incoming LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada met with Dupre and Chark before the bowl game, attempting to convince both players to return to school. Canada was set to begin his first full work week Monday. He arrived in town Friday.
His offensive system includes a package built around the jet sweep, one of Chark’s specialties. The receiver was the Tigers’ jet sweep man this season, and he ran for a touchdown on the play in the Texas Bowl last season.
Three other LSU underclassmen have declared for the NFL draft: Fournette, safety Jamal Adams and defensive lineman Davon Godchaux. Godchaux and Fournette have signed with agents, giving up their amateurism.
The Tigers now await Dupre’s decision. Coach Ed Orgeron and LSU staff members have spoken to Dupre’s family about his future. Underclassmen must declare by Jan. 16.
Dupre, the nation's top-ranked receiver in the 2014 recruiting class, is projected as a second- to third-round pick by walterfootball.com. The site ranks him as the seventh-best receiver in the draft. He surged after his performance against Louisville in the Citrus Bowl; he caught seven passes for 139 yards.
Chark’s return is a much-needed lift for a position group that was dominated by Dupre, Dural and Chark. Four other receivers caught passes, but that group combined for just 12 receptions.