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John Sherman "JuJu" Smith-Schuster (born November 22, 1996) is an American football wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at USC and was drafted by the Steelers in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

JuJu Smith-Schuster
refer to caption
Smith-Schuster in 2019
No. 19 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Position:Wide receiver
Personal information
Born: (1996-11-22) November 22, 1996 (age 22)
Long Beach, California
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:220 lb (100 kg)
Career information
High school:Long Beach Polytechnic
(Long Beach, California)
College:USC
NFL Draft:2017 / Round: 2 / Pick: 62
Career history
Roster status:Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of 2018
Receptions:169
Receiving yards:2,343
Return yards:240
Total touchdowns:15
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Contents

Early yearsEdit

Smith attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, California. He played wide receiver and safety for the Jackrabbits football team.[1] Smith was rated by Rivals.com as a five-star recruit and was ranked as the second-best safety in his class and the 24th-best player overall.[2] He committed to the University of Southern California (USC) to play college football under then-head coach Steve Sarkisian.[3] His initial decision was to attend Oregon and told his mother that was going to be where he would play, but then announced he was going to USC during his televised commitment.[4]

College careerEdit

Smith-Schuster earned immediate playing time as a true freshman in 2014.[5][6] In his first career game, he had four receptions for 123 yards against Fresno State.[7] Against the Washington State Cougars, he had six receptions for 74 yards and three touchdowns.[8] He finished the 2014 season with 54 receptions for 724 yards and five touchdowns.[9] As a sophomore in 2015, Smith-Schuster played 14 games with a career-high 1,454 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.[10] As a junior in 2016, he played 13 games with 914 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.[11] After the 2016 season, Smith-Schuster decided to forgo his senior year and enter the 2017 NFL Draft.[12]

College statisticsEdit

Year Team G GS Receiving Rushing Kick return Defense
Rec Yds Avg TD Att Yds Avg TD Kr Yds Avg TD Solo Ast Total
2014 USC 13 13 54 724 13.4 5 2 3 1.5 0 11 132 12.0 0 4 1 5
2015 USC 14 14 89 1,454 16.3 10 1 4 4.0 0 4 51 12.8 0 1 0 1
2016 USC 13 13 70 914 13.1 10 5 27 5.4 0 1 2 2.0 0 2 0 2
Career 40 40 213 3,092 14.5 25 8 34 4.3 0 16 185 11.6 0 7 1 8

Source:[13]

Professional careerEdit

Smith-Schuster received an invitation to the NFL Combine and performed nearly all of the combine drills and positional drills except for the three-cone drill and short shuttle. He opted to attend USC's Pro Day and performed the short shuttle and three-cone drill. In addition, he performed the vertical and broad jump and improved his combine number on both.[14] The Dallas Cowboys were the only team to hold a private workout with Smith-Schuster and showed heavy interest in him.[15] He was ranked as the fourth best wide receiver in the draft by Sports Illustrated and ESPN, and ninth by NFLDraftScout.com and draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.[16][17][18]

External video
  Smith-Schuster's NFL Combine Workout
  Juju Smith-Schuster runs the 40-yard dash
  Juju Smith-Schuster bench presses 15 reps
Pre-draft measurables
Ht Wt Arm length Hand size 40-yard dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert jump Broad BP
6 ft 1 38 in
(1.86 m)
215 lb
(98 kg)
32 78 in
(0.84 m)
10 12 in
(0.27 m)
4.54 s 1.55 s 2.65 s 4.18 s 6.93 s 33 12 in
(0.85 m)
10 ft 3 in
(3.12 m)
15 reps
All values from NFL Combine/USC's Pro Day[19][14]

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Smith-Schuster in the second round (62nd overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft.[20] He was the youngest player selected in the 2017 Draft and was the 13th USC wide receiver drafted in the last 15 years.[21]

External video
  Steelers draft Smith-Schuster 62nd overall
  Smith-Schuster emotional after draft call

2017 season: Rookie yearEdit

On May 17, 2017, the Steelers signed him to a four-year, $4.19 million contract with $1.84 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $1.19 million.[22]

Smith-Schuster entered training camp competing with Sammie Coates, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Eli Rogers, Marcus Tucker, and Justin Hunter to be the Steelers' third option at wide receiver on their depth chart. He was named the sixth wide receiver on the Steelers' depth chart to begin the regular season behind Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Heyward-Bey, Rogers, and Hunter.[23]

Smith-Schuster made his NFL debut in the Steelers' season-opening victory over the Cleveland Browns and was credited with his first career start as a kick returner, returning one kick for four yards.[24] When Smith-Schuster made his debut, he was the youngest player in the NFL.[25] In Week 2, Smith-Schuster recorded his first career reception and caught his first career touchdown on a four-yard pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, as the Steelers defeated the Minnesota Vikings by a score of 26–9.[26] During the Vikings game, Smith-Schuster became the youngest NFL player to score a touchdown since running back Andy Livingston in 1964. He also became the second-youngest player in NFL history to catch a touchdown behind Arnie Herber, who was 60 days younger than Smith-Schuster when he caught a touchdown in 1930.[27] During Week 7 against the Cincinnati Bengals, Smith-Schuster caught his third touchdown pass of the season, a 31-yard reception, becoming the first player in NFL history to score three touchdowns before the age of 21.[28] On October 29, 2017, Smith-Schuster made his first career start at wide receiver and had a breakout performance with a season-high seven receptions for 193 receiving yards and scored a 97-yard touchdown during a 20–15 victory on Sunday Night Football against the Detroit Lions. The 97-yard touchdown reception was also the longest pass play in team history and the longest touchdown reception in the league during the 2017 season.[29][30] Smith-Schuster started at wide receiver in place of Martavis Bryant, who was benched by head coach Mike Tomlin after publicly asking for a trade.[31][32] His 193 yards was second only to Jimmy Orr's 205 in 1958 for the most receiving yards by a Steelers rookie and the most by any NFL rookie since Mike Evans' 209 in Week 11 of 2014.[33] He was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his Week 8 performance.[34] On December 5, 2017, Smith-Schuster was suspended for one game after he delivered a blindsided block to Cincinnati Bengals' linebacker Vontaze Burfict in Week 13.[35] In Week 17, he had a 96-yard kick return for a touchdown and also caught nine passes for 143 yards and one touchdown during a 28–24 victory against the Cleveland Browns. With his performance in Week 17, Smith-Schuster became the youngest player in NFL history to have over 1,000 all-purpose yards.[36] He was also named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his kick return touchdown.[37] He finished the season with 58 receptions for 917 yards and seven touchdowns, with the latter two statistics leading all rookies.[38][39] He was named the Polynesian Pro Football Player of the Year for 2017.[40]

The Steelers finished first in the AFC North with a 13–3 record and earned a first round bye. On January 14, 2018, Smith-Schuster started in his first playoff game and made three receptions for five yards and a late touchdown in a narrow 45–42 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Divisional Round.[41]

2018 seasonEdit

 
Juju Smith Schuster in 2018

On January 18, 2018, the Pittsburgh Steelers promoted quarterback's coach Randy Fichtner to offensive coordinator after they opted not to renew former offensive coordinator Todd Haley's contract.[42] Smith-Schuster entered training camp slated as a starting wide receiver after the Steelers traded Martavis Bryant to the Oakland Raiders for a third-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.[43] Tomlin named Smith-Schuster a starting wide receiver to begin the regular season, alongside Antonio Brown.[44] Smith-Schuster started his second NFL season strong with nine receptions for 116 receiving yards in the 21–21 tie against the Cleveland Browns.[45] He followed that performance up with a career-high 13 receptions for 121 receiving yards and a touchdown in a 42–37 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.[46] In Week 3, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he recorded nine receptions for 116 yards in the 30–27 victory on Monday Night Football.[47] Smith-Schuster broke another NFL record on November 25, 2018 against the Denver Broncos when he became to the first player ever to have two offensive touchdowns of at least 97 yards. The touchdown was part of a 13-reception, 189-yard performance in the loss.[48][49] In Week 14 against the Oakland Raiders, Smith-Schuster caught 8 passes for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns in a 24–21 loss. During Week 16 against the New Orleans Saints, Smith-Schuster finished with 115 receiving yards as the Steelers lost 28–31; however, as the Steelers were progressing down the field into scoring position, Smith-Schuster committed a game ending fumble.[50] This would ultimately be one of the causes of the Steelers missing the playoffs that season, as wins by the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts the following week officially eliminated them. Smith-Schuster was voted team MVP by his teammates for the 2018 season, finishing the season with a team-high 111 receptions and 1,426 yards.[51] He also had seven touchdowns on the season, finishing second on the team only to Antonio Brown's 15 touchdown catches.[52] Smith-Schuster made his first career Pro Bowl in 2018 as an alternate, after teammate Antonio Brown announced that he would not participate in the game because of an injury.[53] He received an overall grade of 81.8 from Pro Football Focus in 2018, which ranked as the 16th highest grade among all qualifying wide receivers.[54]

NFL statisticsEdit

Legend
Led the league
Bold Career high

Regular seasonEdit

NFL career statistics
Year Team Games Receiving Rushing Returning Fumbles
GP GS Rec Yds Avg Lng TD Att Yds Avg Lng TD Ret Yds Avg Lng TD Fum Lost
2017 PIT 14 7 58 917 15.8 97T 7 0 0 0.0 0 0 9 240 26.7 96T 1 0 0
2018 PIT 16 13 111 1,426 12.8 97T 7 1 13 13.0 13 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 1 1
Career 30 20 169 2,343 13.9 97T 14 1 13 13.0 13 0 9 240 26.7 96T 1 1 1

PostseasonEdit

Postseason statistics
Year Team Games Receiving Rushing Returning Fumbles
GP GS Rec Yds Avg Lng TD Att Yds Avg Lng TD Ret Yds Avg Lng TD Fum Lost
2017 PIT 1 1 3 5 1.7 4 1 0 0
Totals 1 1 3 5 1.7 4 1 0 0

NFL recordsEdit

  • First player in NFL history to score five touchdowns before his 21st birthday[55]
  • Youngest player in to record at least 150 receiving yards in a single game[56]
  • First player to have two offensive touchdowns of at least 97 yards[57]
  • Youngest receiver with 1,500 receiving yards[58]

Steelers franchise recordsEdit

  • Longest touchdown reception in franchise history (97 yards)[59]
  • Youngest receiver to record over 1,000 receiving yards in a season (2018)[60]
  • Fewest games needed to reach 1,500 career receiving yards (21)[61]

Personal lifeEdit

Smith-Schuster is of African American and Samoan descent and was raised in Long Beach, California. He is the second-eldest of seven children and identifies as a Christian.[62] His cousin, Johnny Nansen, is currently the USC Trojans' assistant coach. Smith-Schuster's nickname "JuJu" came from his aunt when he was a few months old. She initially called him "John-John" before opting to call him "JuJu" instead.[63] He has one biological sister named So'omalo and their father was not active in their lives.[64] His stepfather, Lawrence Schuster, was introduced to his mother, Sammy (Toa) when Smith-Schuster was four years old.[63] Smith-Schuster legally hyphenated his last name after he turned 18, adding Schuster in honor of his stepfather.[65] Smith-Schuster states he grew up a fan of USC and looked up to wide receivers Marqise Lee, Robert Woods, and Nelson Agholor.[66]

In February 2018, Smith-Schuster announced a partnership with the popular gaming group FaZe Clan to sell merchandise.[67] He now has a YouTube channel using his full name that posts Call of Duty, Fortnite Battle Royale, and daily life videos.[68]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Guardabascio, Mike (December 29, 2013). "JuJu Smith and the Life of a Five-Star Recruit". Press Telegram. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
  2. ^ "Rivals.com". sports.yahoo.com.
  3. ^ Prince, Seth. "Juju Smith picks USC after planning to commit to Oregon as late as Monday". Oregon Live. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  4. ^ Klein, Gary (November 17, 2015). "USC's JuJu Smith-Schuster to face Oregon program he nearly joined". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  5. ^ Lev, Michael (October 24, 2014). "USC's JuJu Smith is mature beyond his years". Orange County Register. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
  6. ^ Lev, Michael (December 20, 2014). "Playful USC WR JuJu Smith soaks it all in". Orange County Register. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
  7. ^ "USC freshman WR JuJu Smith dazzles in No. 9 – FOX Sports". September 1, 2014.
  8. ^ Klein, Gary (November 16, 2014). "USC-UCLA game gives receiver JuJu Smith another opportunity to grow" – via LA Times.
  9. ^ "JuJu Smith-Schuster 2014 Game Log". College Football at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  10. ^ "JuJu Smith-Schuster 2015 Game Log". College Football at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  11. ^ "JuJu Smith-Schuster 2016 Game Log". College Football at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  12. ^ Bonagura, Kyle. "Smith-Schuster leaving Trojans for NFL draft". ESPN.com.
  13. ^ "Juju Smith-Schuster". sports-reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
  14. ^ a b "*Juju Smith-Schuster, DS #9 WR, USC". nfldraftscout.com. Retrieved May 16, 2017.
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  33. ^ Rookies with 190+ receiving yards, PFR
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  35. ^ Patra, Kevin. "JuJu Smith-Schuster, George Iloka each suspended for one game". NFL. Retrieved December 5, 2017.
  36. ^ Casaletto, Lucas (December 31, 2017). "Smith-Schuster youngest to reach 1,000-plus all-purpose yards in 1 season". thescore.com. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
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  40. ^ "JuJu Smith-Schuster named Polynesian player of the year". nfl.com. January 4, 2018. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  41. ^ "Divisional Round – Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers – January 14th, 2018". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
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  43. ^ Reyes, Lorenzo. "Steelers cast off Martavis Bryant in trade to Raiders". USA TODAY. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
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  46. ^ Williams, Charean. "Chiefs drop Steelers to 0–1–1 with 42–37 win". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
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  55. ^ Guardabascio, Mike (November 15, 2017). "Long Beach in NFL: JuJu Smith-Schuster first in NFL's 97 years with 5 TDs at 20". Press Telegram. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  56. ^ "Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster sends reminder to doubters on Twitter". ESPN.com. October 31, 2017. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
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  62. ^ "Young Samoan drafted by Pittsburg Steelers for N.F.L." samoaobserver.WS. May 5, 2017. Retrieved October 29, 2017.
  63. ^ a b Klein, Gary (November 16, 2014). "USC-UCLA game gives receiver JuJu Smith another opportunity to grow". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 29, 2017.
  64. ^ Harrigan, Scott (October 31, 2014). "Former Wash State linebacker Johnny Nansen running the show at USC". ISN. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  65. ^ Thiry, Lindsey. "USC's JuJu Smith changes last name to Smith-Schuster". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
  66. ^ Uggetti, Paolo. "The Young Hope". The Ringer. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  67. ^ Reames, Mitch (February 8, 2018). "Pittsburgh Steelers' JuJu Smith-Schuster Meshes With Esports Organization FaZe Clan". sporttechie.com. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
  68. ^ "USER STATISTICS FOR TEAMJUJU (APR 12TH, 2018 – APR 25TH, 2018)". socialblade.com. Retrieved April 25, 2018.

External linksEdit