On Thursday morning, Chase checked his phone and saw a message from Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, his former teammate at LSU. For weeks, Burrow was planting the idea of a reunion with his former wide receiver in Chase's mind.
There was no doubt when Chase read the message -- the Bengals were taking him with the fifth overall pick in this year's draft.
"I believed him this morning when he said pack my bags," Chase said on Thursday night. "That's when I finally was like, 'Dang, he might really be calling it.' That's when I took his word."
Chase and Burrow were part of the prolific LSU team that went undefeated in 2019 and knocked off Clemson to win the national championship. The Bengals drafted Burrow with the top overall pick last season and took Chase on Thursday. It's the highest Cincinnati has taken a wide receiver since it drafted A.J. Green fourth overall in 2011.
Chase, who opted out of the 2020 season, will be tasked with filling Green's role as a primary outside wide receiver. In his final season at LSU, Chase led the entire Football Bowl Subdivision in receiving yards (1,780) and receiving touchdowns (20).
That year, Chase won the Biletnikoff Award, which is awarded to college football's top wide receiver. Burrow won the Heisman Trophy. In his post-draft interview on Thursday, Chase said it's a big thing to be able to have Burrow as his quarterback as he transitions to the NFL.
"This is something a lot of people might not have the chance to do, especially being with a quarterback they won the Biletnikoff Award with," Chase said. "That's something that's going to be great."
Burrow was among the people the Bengals' front office solicited opinions from when doing pre-draft homework. Bengals coach Zac Taylor said while he asked Burrow specific questions about Chase and other draft options Burrow was familiar with, the quarterback didn't do any aggressive campaigning for the Bengals to select Chase.
"You could tell that he had a great fondness for Ja'Marr," Taylor said. "He would be excited to play with him again if that's the direction we headed. But that's not really Joe's style to come up and say, 'We need to be taking this guy.' That didn't happen at all."
Burrow is recovering from surgery that repaired multiple torn ligaments in his left knee. Jordan Palmer, Burrow's private throwing coach, shared footage on social media Thursday of Burrow throwing passes. Chase said he hopes to get a session with Burrow in as soon as the quarterback's rehab process allows.
As soon as Chase's pick was announced, Burrow immediately posted a GIF on Twitter of Chase celebrating a touchdown in LSU's championship win over Clemson in 2019. Immediately after the Bengals selected Chase, he had no idea if Burrow had called him or sent another message. Chase said his phone was ringing in his pocket for at least 10 minutes after his name was called in Cleveland.
But given how Thursday started for Chase and Burrow, communication between the two of them would be a fitting way to end a day that sealed their reunion.
"I'm hoping he called," Chase said.