Urban Meyer challenged DJ Chark this offseason and the young Jaguars receiver has graciously accepted, working towards becoming the best receiver he can be and vowing never to have another season like the one that occurred last year.
Speaking with the media last week following OTA No. 6, Meyer spoke candidly about his perception of Chark heading into his new role as the team’s head coach. While he did say his second year was “very good,” last season Chark didn’t play well, and there needed to be a change in how he prepared.
“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,” said Meyer. “He was told that and the best thing about DJ is he addressed it and hit it very hard.”
Last year, according to Meyer, Chark was more of a big guy that played little last season, something that simply can’t happen. Now, the 6-foot-4, 198-pound receiver has gained seven pounds of muscle and is already playing much more physically, according to his head coach.
“Guys like Mike Thomas and Louis Murphy, those big, strong, fast receivers—and he’s got to play big and strong, and he can now because he is big and strong. So, I just had, ironically, a good meeting with him as we walked off the field. We can’t lose that strength and power gains that he made in the offseason. And he’s committed to do it this summer.”
Last season wasn’t the best for the now fourth-year receiver, accounting for just 53 receptions for 706 yards and five touchdowns. He would play in only 13 games, missing a few due to injuries.
While his season totals weren’t all his fault - the Jaguars started three different quarterbacks last year -, he did take the time on Thursday to address Meyer’s criticism of him, and took accountability for why he wasn’t as successful as he ought to be.
“I love the challenge. I also told Coach that I’m like that. When I go out there, I ball,” Chark said shortly following practice.
“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.”
Since Meyer has taken over as the team’s head coach, one of the key messages Meyer has preached has been about taking accountability and owning “it,” building yourself up to become the best you can be. That sort of mentality has resonated within the team’s locker room and Chark has become one of the key examples of words and actions colliding.
“There were times where I let the circumstances control my output,” Chark said of last season. “Which if I’m going to be the guy I want to be, I have to be that guy all the time, so I take credit for that.”
Chark should have plenty of better opportunities this season. The Jaguars selected quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the first-overall pick in April and they’ve surrounded him with more talent at the receiver position in bringing in Marvin Jones Jr.
Still, it’s up to Chark to realize his potential and put it to test on the gridiron this fall.
“I definitely think I can be way better than what I was last year. That’s definitely the floor for me the rest of my career. I won’t be going back there.”