DJ Chark is bigger, faster, and stronger.
The fourth-year man out of LSU, who broke out in his second year only to regress from a production standpoint in year three, was challenged by his new head coach this offseason.
"I just didn't like his size, his strength, I just thought it was way below average, way below what we expect from our receivers," Jaguars' head coach Urban Meyer told the media on Thursday. "He was told that, and the best thing about DJ is he addressed it and hit it very hard. [He] gained seven pounds of muscle, he's playing a much more physical game, he's a big guy that played little last year, and that can't happen."
From my vantage point, strength didn't appear to be Chark's most glaring issue. I believed QB play and other mitigating circumstances, including nagging injuries, were the main culprits behind his subpar season in 2020. Chark played in 13 games last season and caught just 53 balls for 706 yards and five scores. But perhaps with extra work in the weight room and an added focus on strength and sports science, Chark will rebound in 2021.
Chark has undoubtedly embraced the request presented to him by Urban Meyer.
"I like it," Chark shared. "I love the challenge. I also told Coach that I'm like that. When I go out there, I ball. I love talking to Coach Meyer. He's a competitor. He's going to push me. He also knows I'm going to do what I do; I'm going to step up, I'm going to make plays. He's given me good advice, told me to go get in the weight room. I get in the weight room, I put the weight on, but I know, once again, I'm like that. But I love when he pushes me to be better than what I am. To make him happy, you really have to be balling, so I have to step it up to make him happy. But it's definitely a good push; I like having a guy like that, an alpha that's going to push you to be an alpha."
The seven pounds of muscle that Chark has added to his 6'4" frame is plain to see, even to the untrained eye. The 24-year-old wide receiver, who has always been on the thin side, now looks the part of a proper number one receiver.
According to Chark, his work in the weight room this offseason not only made him stronger but has also given him more speed. Remember — this is an athlete that ran a blazing 4.34 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in 2018.
"I enjoy looking bigger, feeling bigger, running faster," Chark said. "Credit to the staff that we have here, the weight room, the guys, the intensity that we bring. I really enjoy it. It makes it a place I don't mind going and getting some work in. I'm not hiding from the weight room. I'm pretty excited; I like it."
Chark's talent has never been in question. He's been a highlight reel waiting to happen the past two seasons. Adding more strength and speed to his game could be the edge Chark needs to put himself over the top and return to the Pro Bowl. Having Trevor Lawrence, who's no stranger to launching the ball deep down the field, won't hurt Chark's odds of returning to prominence.
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