LSU star wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase officially declared his decision to opt out of the 2020 season Monday.
One of the most talented wide receivers in LSU history, Chase detailed his choice to sit out in a four-paragraph statement that he released on Twitter.
"The competitor in me badly wants to play the season and go to war with my brothers," Chase wrote, "but during this time with so much going on, this is what's best for my family."
Thank you! pic.twitter.com/elByYq0oNg— Ja’MarrChase (@Real10jayy__) August 31, 2020
News broke Sunday that Chase was expected to opt out his junior year and instead prepare for the NFL draft.
Chase alluded to the news in a tweet earlier Monday, which said, "i would have like to tell y'all first."
Chase joins defensive lineman Neil Farrell and safety Kary Vincent as the third LSU football player choosing to sit out of the 2020 season, and he is one of the most high-profile college players to make the decision so far.
The Southeastern Conference announced in mid-July that players could sit out the 2020 season and still keep their scholarships. In early August, Chase's father, Jimmy, said his son was "locked in" on playing and wasn't focusing on possibly skipping the season during the coronavirus pandemic.
That perspective has clearly changed, and the Tigers will have to press on without the player who may be their best on the roster.
"I have been fighting the thoughts and concerns that have crept into my mind but I cannot ignore what I feel in my heart and this ultimately is the best decision for me," Chase wrote. "I'll look forward to returning to the field in 2021."
Chase was a proven playmaker. He was going to wear the team's coveted No. 7 jersey this season. Last week, he was named a preseason Associated Press All-American, and he is expected to be one of the top receivers in this draft class.
The Biletnikoff Award winner in 2019, Chase set LSU and Southeastern Conference records with 1,780 yards receiving and 20 touchdowns on 84 catches, an average of 21.2 yards per reception.
Chase's departure is the most recent blow in a difficult preseason camp for the Tigers. Since practice began Aug. 17, two starters have opted out, needed to monitor Hurricanes Marco and Laura, and, on Wednesday, all but four LSU offensive linemen were quarantined after they either tested positive for COVID-19 or were determined to have high-risk exposure.
Meanwhile, while many conferences have postponed fall sports, six Football Bowl Subdivision leagues are moving forward with football this fall, including the SEC, which will play a 10-game, league only schedule.
LSU is scheduled to open the 10-game season Sept. 26 at home against Mississippi State.
Now, projected starting quarterback Myles Brennan has lost his most dangerous target. Terrace Marshall, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound junior, becomes the team's top returning receiver. Marshall caught 46 passes for 671 yards and 13 touchdowns in 12 games, missing three because of a foot injury.
LSU's offense has regularly used at least three wide receivers at a time, since the Tigers switched to a spread attack last season. LSU coach Ed Orgeron has often spoke of senior Racey McMath as the group's third option, and it's likely that the 6-foot-3, 224-pound New Orleans native will step into a bigger role.
McMath caught 17 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns last season, which includes a 60-yard reception. Orgeron has praised his speed and ability to make plays.
LSU's third receiver will likely be someone more unproven. No other returning receiver caught more than five passes. Senior Jontre Kirklin and sophomore Jaray Jenkins combined for seven catches for 142 yards.
However, there is talented youth. Sophomore Trey Palmer showcased his speed with a 54-yard punt return for a touchdown against Northwestern State in 2019, and LSU signed five-star wide receiver Kayshon Boutte out of Westgate High.
Boutte was one of three receivers in LSU's 2020 recruiting class, including four-star Rummel High grad Koy Moore and three-star Mississippi prospect Alex Adams.