“Les Miles Told Me I Couldn’t Play Receiver When I Was Coming Out Of High School” | Ja’Marr Chase Talks About Motivation Ahead Of AFC Title Game

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Cincinnati Bengals rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase is preparing for his first AFC championship game. His Bengals will travel to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the defending conference champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. In this week’s media availability he talked about using doubt as fuel to be the best player he can be.

“I can tell you honestly, one of my best stories ever. Les Miles told me I couldn’t play receiver when I was coming out of high school,” Chase said. “So that was something I had on my shoulders growing up. Les Miles told me he thought I could play cornerback. I wasn’t really at the full position of receiver yet so I just kept working at my craft in the offseason, waking up early in the mornings to work out. I just kept focused.”

It’s not uncommon for players to use doubt as motivation to help achieve the greatness they believed they’re capable of.

Chase had a spectacular rookie season.

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He was sixth among all wide receivers in Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement, third among all No. 1 option receivers in Defense-adjusted Value Over Average. He finished with 1,455 receiving yards, the most by a rookie in the Super Bowl era. Chase also had 13 receiving touchdowns.

The heights he’s achieving at the pro level are a continuation of what he did at LSU where he was a first team All-Sec, All-American and Biletnikoff award winner.

That former LSU head coach Les Miles couldn’t see it when recruiting Chase as a high schooler isn’t egregious, per se. Coaches underestimate players all the time. Projecting what a 15-16 year-old kid will be at 20 or 21 is not an exact science.

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It’s also a good thing Miles never coached Chase as well. His original projection would have possibly stunted Chase’s growth.

As it turns out Miles was fired midway through the 2016 season at LSU and spent the 2017 and 2018 seasons out of coaching before coaching at Kansas for two seasons. Chase, a member of the recruiting class of 2018, was a four-star recruit and an immediate contributor at wide receiver for LSU under Ed Orgeron.

Sunday’s AFC title game is a rematch of week 17. The Bengals, at home, beat the Chiefs 34-31 to claim the AFC North. Quarterback Joe Burrow and Chase had career days. Chase finished that game with 11 catches for 266 yards and three touchdowns. Burrow threw for 446 yards and four scores.

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Suffice to say the Chiefs will likely have a better game plan on Sunday. Starting with getting more pressure on Burrow and blanketing Chase.

In their divisional game against the Buffalo Bills the Chiefs secondary essentially shut out pro bowl wide receiver Stefon Diggs, holding him to three catches for 7 yards.

A big key to the Chiefs secondary is Tyrann Mathieu. The Pro Bowl safety was knocked out of the divisional game and placed in the concussion health and safety protocols. His availability for Sunday will go a long way in helping to limit Chase.

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was positive, but knows he needs to clear protocol and practice.

“So, the only person who didn’t practice today was Tyrann (Mathieu),” Reid said. “He’s in the (concussion) protocol. Doing very well, we’ll just see how he does tomorrow. There is a chance if everything works out that he’ll be back.”

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