LSU receiver Ja'Marr Chase will opt out of the 2020 season and declare for the 2021 NFL Draft, according to a CBS Sports report. The report was later confirmed by Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger.
“A formal announcement is expected Monday with Chase, the nation's top returning wideout, declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft. ‘It's 100% happening,’ a highly-placed source close said Sunday," CBS Sports Dennis Dodd reported.
This is a surprising development as just a few weeks ago, Chase's father Jimmy told Geaux247 that his son had every intention of playing out the 2020 college football season.
“He’s going to play the season out,” Jimmy Chase said. “He’s locked in with his team, and as long as everybody is healthy, he’s said he wants to play with his team and his teammates. He just loves the game, and he loves LSU. He wants to finish his career out in a positive manner.”
After his Biletnikoff winning 2019 season for the purple and gold that included 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns, Chase was awarded the No. 7 jersey for the upcoming season.
“He’s been phenomenal. Ja’Marr is an excellent young man,” coach Ed Orgeron said on 104.5 ESPN a few weeks back. “He’s very humble. He doesn’t require a lot of attention. He’s not in the media a lot, he just comes to work. He’s a leader.
“They’ve had player-only practices on Saturday morning when I come to work at 10 o’clock, they running through red zone routes on offense. They are on their own out there and he’s the one that’s leading. He’s the one encouraging everybody. He’s in the weight room. I think he’s in the best shape he has ever been. I can’t say enough good things about Ja’Marr Chase and what he’s done for LSU.”
According to Dodd's report, Chase's decision isn't believed to be COVID-19 related but rather a decision to focus on the upcoming draft with a highly regarded resume already established. LSU will now have to push forward with the loss of three starters who were expected to be key contributors this season, Chase, safety Kary Vincent and defensive lineman Neil Farrell.
With Chase reportedly out of the fold, much of the weight at receiver will now fall on Terrace Marshall's shoulders as well as senior Racey McMath. Freshman tight end Arik Gilbert will also demand a lot of the attention this fall but there's no debating that Chase is a huge loss for Ed Orgeron and company.