MINNEAPOLIS -- Dynamic duo receivers Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase were inseparable throughout their college days. They did pretty much everything together at LSU, working out on the field, hanging out off it, and rising up the ranks to become among the best players to ever play for the historic program.
No doubt it helped both players to have quarterback Joe Burrow under center. Together, the trio led LSU to the most prolific college football season in recent memory, capping it off with a dominant victory over Clemson to claim the national championship.
These days, Jefferson stars for the Minnesota Vikings, and Chase catches passes from Burrow with the Cincinnati Bengals. They will play against each other for the first time in their NFL careers on Sunday when the Vikings take on the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.
Will it be weird?
“Not really,” Jefferson said. “We're used to being around each other and playing on the same field, so to see each other back, playing against each other, it’s kind of more exciting than anything else.”
To this point, Jefferson has had the most success of the bunch after being selected with No. 22 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
He dominated at pretty much every level last season as a rookie, roasting opposing defenders with crisp routes near the line of scrimmage, while using his speed to separate down the field. Ultimately, the 22-year-old Jefferson finished with 88 catches for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns in his first season as a pro. He would have won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year had it not been for Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert.
Meanwhile, Burrow, 24, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft, played 10 games for the Bengals last season before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He is back to full strength heading into this season.
Asked about Jefferson in a recent story published by the Cincinnati Enquirer, Burrow jokingly replied, “We made each other a lot of money.”
“Yeah, for sure, we helped each other out,” Jefferson added with a smile. “It’s great to see how far we’ve come and to see how much we’ve grown.”
Likewise, both players spoke highly of Chase, who was selected with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2021 draft. It helps that Chase gets to reunite with Burrow at the next level.
“We all knew that it was bound to happen,” Jefferson said. “To have his old quarterback back, I know he’s excited about that.”
As for Sunday’s game, while it will be all love before kickoff, there are definitely some bragging rights on the line.
“We’ve been sharing some words with each other, talking some trash, and just having a friendly conversation,” Jefferson said with a smile. Chase and I “are both ready for this game. It’s going to be exciting to go up against each other.”