John Sherman Smith-Schuster, commonly known as JuJu Smith-Schuster, is an American football player who plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the National Football League (NFL). He played for the University of Southern California during his college days and trained under coach Steve Sarkisian. In his college career, he was rated very highly by the experts, and it didn’t take too long for him to draw attention from the recruiters for top teams. Pittsburgh Steelers opted for him at the 2017 NFL Draft and made him the youngest player to be drafted in that season. He joined the team as their wide receiver and had a fantastic debut season. He made a few records in his first two professional seasons in the top tier and is regarded as one of the most sought-after young talents in the game.
JuJu Smith-Schuster first started playing football at Long Beach Polytechnic High School in Long Beach and became the wide receiver for the Jackrabbit football team during his stint at the institute. Later, he attended the University of Southern California and joined the college football team. Smith-Schuster was regarded as one of the most promising young footballers at that level and was tipped to go further as a footballer. He learned a great deal about the game from the head coach, Steve Sarkisian, a former Atlanta Falcons player. He had a remarkable debut season in college football and registered four receptions of 123 yards in his debut game. In his debut season, Smith-Schuster registered a total of 54 receptions in 13 games, followed by 89 receptions in 14 games the next season. In his second season at USC, Smith-Schuster recorded 1454 yards of receptions with an average of 16.3 yards per reception. His 3rd season was also good; he recorded 70 receptions in 13 games.
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After an impressive spell in college football, JuJu Smith-Schuster took a big step to drop out of his senior year and enter NFL Draft in pursuit of a professional football career. He entered the 2017 NFL Draft after he was invited to the NFL Combine where he performed various drills, including a stint as part of a private workout with the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas Cowboys were the only team to arrange a private workout with him as they saw a great future footballer in him. Sports magazine ‘Sports Illustrated’ and sports media giant ESPN rated him as the fourth-best wide receiver in the 2017 NFL Draft. He was also rated very highly by football analyst Melvin Adam "Mel" Kiper Jr., who put him in the top ten wide receivers list for the year’s draft.
In the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Smith-Schuster was recruited by the Pittsburgh Steelers as the 62nd player. The club offered him a four-year contract worth $4.19 million with a signing-on bonus of $1.19 million and a guaranteed $1.84 million in salaries. Smith-Schuster joined the Steelers as the sixth wide receiver in their squad. The squad had strong players like Darrius Heyward-Bey, Eli Rogers, Justin Hunter, Antonio Brown, and Martavis Bryant ahead of him in the pecking order.
Smith-Schuster kicked off his professional career with the club in the season’s opening victory over the Cleveland Browns as a kick returner. His next match came against the Minnesota Vikings in which Smith-Schuster recorded his first career touchdown. This marked a milestone in the history of the NFL with Smith-Schuster becoming the youngest player to score a touchdown since the great Andy Livingston in 1964. He also became the second youngest player in the history of NFL, behind Arnie Herber in 1930, to catch a touchdown. A few weeks later, against the Cincinnati Bengals, Smith-Schuster registered his third touchdown pass and became the only player in the history to do so before turning 21. His first match as a side receiver came against the Detroit Lions, and he delivered a remarkable performance. He registered seven receptions for 193 receiving yards as well as scored a 97-yard touchdown which helped the team win the match on a 20-15 score. In his first season, Smith-Schuster recorded a whopping 58 receptions in just 14 games, 7 of them being starts. He bettered that performance in the following season by registering more than double of the receptions he had scored in the previous season (111 receptions, 1,426 receiving yards). Smith-Schuster kept breaking records in the second season as well. He became the youngest receiver to complete 1500 receiving yards and to record a minimum of 150 receiving yards in a single game. He also became the first player to register two touchdowns of a minimum of 97 yards. He broke many records for the Pittsburgh Steelers including scoring the longest touchdown in the club’s history as well as becoming the youngest player to register 1,000 receiving yards in a single season. Smith-Schuster also became the fastest player (in terms of matches taken) to complete 1,500 career receiving yards for the Steelers franchise.
Family & Personal Life
John Sherman Smith was born in Long Beach, California, on November 22, 1996, to Sammy Toa who raised him along with his sister So'omalo. Smith’s father left the family when Smith was a kid, and he was later adopted by his stepfather, Lawrence Schuster, who has made a huge difference in his life. Smith officially added his stepfather’s surname to his name after turning 18 as a way of acknowledging his influence in his life.
His aunt started calling him ‘John-John’ when he was a kid and later nick-named him ‘JuJu,’ which Smith-Schuster embraced wholeheartedly.