Why did Bengals star Ja’Marr Chase withdraw from the LSU junior season for draft NFL?

Bengals receiver Ja’Marr Chase seems to be well on his way to an NFL star after his first regular season, with the rookie making 82 receptions, 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns.

This is after a one-year break from full-time football in preparation for the NFL 2021 draft.

Chase made a major decision in August 2020 to give up his final year at LSU – where he had been unanimously selected for the whole of America and had won the Biletnikoff Prize the year before – to take precedence over his professional career. But it was a decision strongly marked by the circumstances of the time, not just the potential money Chase could make if he stayed healthy.

With that, Sporting News breaks Chase’s decision to withdraw from the LSU junior season:

Why did Ja’Marr Chase check out of LSU?

When Chase announced his decision to join LSU, he did not regret the words. In an already deleted tweet, Chase said that he preferred himself and his family in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although he said he wanted to play for the Tigers for another season, that desire was not enough for him to continue his collegiate game.

“A competitor in me really wants to play the season and go to war with my brothers, but during this time, when so much is happening, it’s best for my family,” Chase wrote as part of his statement. “I can’t ignore what I feel in my heart, and this is the best decision for me in the end. I will look forward to returning to the field in 2021.”

However, according to the CBS report, the decision was not entirely based on the COVID-19 pandemic. Agents may have simply contacted him and persuaded him to leave the LSU and prepare for the NFL 2021 draft. quarterback Heisman Trophy Joe Burrow.

Ja’Marra Chase’s father, Jimmy Chase, told Baton Rouge WAFB that a pandemic linked to nationwide outrage and protests over social inequality and racial injustice had led the Chase family to decide the future of the receiver.

“Ja’Marr struggled with his feelings and emotions and it was just around the clock,” Jimmy Chase said. “These are unprecedented times right now.” He struggled with acting, but (also) he struggled with looking at his future and what could and could not be. “

Jimmy Chase added that if “everything was normal”, his son would probably play in 2021.

MORE: Chance for Rookie of the Year in the NFL Offensive: Ja’Marr Chase Vs. It’s Mac Jones’ turn

Did Ja’Marr Chase’s check-out cause him to drop the balls?

From a financial point of view, Chase’s decision to leave for LSU paid off for his junior season. The Bengals were selected fifth overall and were the overall overall recipient in the NFL 2021 draft (unless you count the close Kyle Pitts, who were occupied by the Falcons before him).

But this decision created uncertainty for the rookie, especially in the preparation season, where he dropped four balls in three games and scored only one catch per 16 yards. Chase’s difficulty catching passes from his former college colleague raised the question of whether his free time off football had caused regression; has not played in full for over a year and a half, dating back to the College Football Playoff championship in 2020 against Clemson.

Chase later offered an explanation of why the NFL had adapted less:

“The ball is different because it’s bigger,” Chase said through Bengals.com. “It doesn’t have white stripes on the side, so you can’t see the ball coming out of the tip, so you have to actually look for the strings on the ball above, which is hard to see because (the whole ball is brown and you have six strings that are white.

“But mostly I have to get used to it and find out what suits me to catch.”

Added Chase:

“My drops come from not looking at the ball. By looking inside, I’m talking about pointing it up and looking at it, and as soon as it hits, you look away,” he said. “I’m running from the catch. I do things like that and let it go. I’ve done it a few times.”

MORE: Ja’Marr Chase by Numbers: Rookie WR performs as Randy Moss in Bengals win over Chiefs

Whatever problems Chase had with catching the ball in the preparation season, they seemed to disappear as soon as the games mattered. In his NFL base debut, he caught five passes on five targets at 101 yards and a score of 27-24 over the Vikings. After the game, he admitted to hearing criticism of his fallen balls.

“I heard that,” Chase said then. “It’s just nonsense. Just turn down the noise.”

Chase didn’t have such a completely offensive explosion in any of his other three games, but he was solid all the time: He combined 12 receptions for 197 yards and three other touchdowns (including two touchdowns in a 24-10 win over the Steelworkers).

The rookie has since played four more games with at least 100 yards, scored 159 yards and landed against the Packers in Week 5; 201 yards and scores against the Ravens in Week 7; 125 yards against the Ravens in week 16; and a rookie record in one game of 266 yards and three touchdowns against the Chiefs in week 17.

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