BATON ROUGE, La. — Before D.J. Chark broke through for a career game Saturday in Tiger Stadium, he faced another uphill battle.
As he has so many times before, he responded.
Chark, a junior wide receiver, battled consistency issues for three years at LSU. This season was tabbed to be a turning point. That became a reality by the time the game ended.
Chark hauled in a career-high three receptions for a career-high 52 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown to put No. 20 LSU on the board first against Mississippi State. The peak certainly came after a valley, but he’s grateful for it.
Without that adversity, he might not be where he is now.
“I’ve always been working on my consistency, knowing that if I don’t make a play I have to come back and do it the next time,” Chark told SEC Country after LSU’s 23-20 victory.
“I demonstrated that today. I messed up, but people told me not to worry about it. I didn’t; I told them I’d make the next play and I did.”
Chark’s promise wasn’t to one teammate or one coach. He gave his word to fellow wideouts Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural, to quarterback Danny Etling, to his position coach Dameyune Craig.
Chark swears he had to make a promise to his entire team.
He lived up to it, though, mustering up the touchdown and the career day, and doing so to the amazement of a Tiger Stadium crowd. Chark is a fan favorite, without question. He doesn’t exactly know why, but he relishes it.
He wants to continue to give that fan base something to cheer for.
“I have no idea why, honestly,” Charked laughed. “But I really appreciate it.”
“I try to stay in the game, but it’s hard to ignore the eruption that I heard when I make a play,” he admitted. “It motivates me to do it again the next play. It’s great that we have one best fan bases in country on our side. It’s the best thing, and knowing that is a great feeling.
“I’m really grateful I can actually be here. There has been a lot of ups and downs, so it’s a great feeling to be playing with two guys that I’ve looked up to since I was a freshman, two guys that make big plays and really drive me. When they make plays, I want to make another play like they did. It helps me that they’re supportive.”
Given the battles Chark has faced early in his college career, to triple his career reception total in one night is something he’ll hang onto for some time … at least until next week.
Dupre rebounded from a slow first two games of the season while Dural was a reliable weapon in the passing game against the Bulldogs, all while Chark emerged as a third threat.
That will be a theme for LSU moving forward, the receiver promised. After all, his team had his back. He wants to return the favor.
“It’s a great feeling to have the other team have to scheme for three people — two dominant running backs, too — and I want to be back there to help those guys out,” Chark said. “Me being out there and actually helping to contribute with Malachi, Travin, Derrius (Guice) and Leonard (Fournette), it really helps me to help those guys out … seriously.”
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.
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