LSU receiver DJ Chark’s versatility was unparalleled in 2017

BATON ROUGE, La. ― LSU wide receiver DJ Chark had a season unlike any other player in college football in 2017.

Chark wasn’t just LSU’s top wide receiver, though he did record three times as many receiving yards (811) as any other wideout on LSU’s roster. And he wasn’t just a dominant deep threat, though his 23.2 yards per reception was the fourth-best mark in the SEC. And he wasn’t just a gifted punt returner, though his 2 punts returned for touchdowns are tied for the most in the conference. His nearly 12 yards per return lead qualified SEC return men.

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It’s hard to do one of those things well. Chark did all three well. He carried LSU’s receiving corps as a possession man, he thrived striking deep and he excelled on special teams. It’s difficult to find anyone else in the country who had a comparable season to Chark. But that’s what we’re looking for this Friday.

To show you just how unparalleled Chark’s season was, here are the best parallels we can find.

Possession plus deep threat

The following is a complete list of Power 5 players who caught 30-plus passes in 2017 and averaged more than 20 yards per reception:

Player Receptions Yards Per Reception
DJ Chark (LSU) 35 23.2
Emanuel Hall (Missouri) 33 24.8
James Washington (Oklahoma State) 69 20.6
Andre Levrone (Virginia) 31 21.4

This is the company Chark is in among receivers. James Washington is the odds-on favorite to win the Biletnikoff Award for the nation’s top wide receiver this year. Emanuel Hall was a junior Olympic gold medalist in the pentathlon and high jump, and Andre Levrone is a 4.40 40-yard dash player with fringe NFL ability.

Speaking of the NFL, let’s put this type of stat line in a pro context. Since 2000, there have been only nine NFL seasons pulled off by seven players where a receiver caught at least 30 passes and averaged at least 20 yards per reception. This puts Chark in the class of players such as Desean Jackson, Mike Wallace and Devery Henderson.

Punt-returning pass catchers

In addition to his 811 receiving yards, Chark returned 16 punts for 187 yards and 2 touchdowns.

There was only one other player in America who had at least 750 receiving yards and 100 punt return yards in 2017 — Maryland’s DJ Moore. And, for what it’s worth, Moore was the only 1,000-yard receiver in the Big Ten this season.

But Chark didn’t just return punts and catch passes. He also ran the ball 12 times for 63 yards and a touchdown. Which puts him in another rare group: players who scored touchdowns on rushes, receptions and punt returns.

Player Rushing TDs Receiving TDs Punt Return TDs
Rashaad Penny (San Diego State) 19 2 1
DJ Chark (LSU) 1 3 2
KaVontae Turpin (TCU) 2 1 1
Isaiah Wright (Temple) 1 3 1

Penny was the nation’s only 2,000-yard rusher and is a fringe Heisman Trophy candidate. Anytime you’re in company with someone like that, that’s an achievement. Regardless of the company though, Chark’s performance was impressive.

The overall

Here’s the stat that might be the most illuminating. Below are the top 5 SEC players according to yards per touch in 2017.

  1. Kentucky WR Lynn Bowden: 17.0 (62 touches)
  2. Missouri WR J’Mon Moore: 17.0 (60 touches)
  3. LSU WR DJ Chark: 16.8 (64 touches)
  4. Ole Miss WR A.J. Brown: 15.9 (82 touches)
  5. Texas A&M WR Christian Kirk: 15.7 (90 touches)

If you expand the list from SEC players to Power 5 players, Chark still ranks in the top 10. But regardless of rank, try to think what this means. On an average play, if that ball was in Chark’s hands, LSU averaged 16.8 yards.

That’s an asset that can’t be understated. He can burn you on the ground, through the air and on special teams. And he did. A lot.

The post LSU receiver DJ Chark’s versatility was unparalleled in 2017 appeared first on SEC Country.

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