JuJu Smith-Schuster, nonetheless simply 23, is among the NFL’s greatest younger large receivers. In his first three seasons with the Steelers, he put up 211 catches for two,895 yards and 17 touchdowns in solely 42 video games. He is in search of an enormous 12 months Four after his 2019 season was marred by harm — to each himself and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Smith-Schuster talked to Sporting Information forward of Pittsburgh’s 2020 NFL kickoff — in Week 1 on “Monday Night time Soccer” towards the Giants — about his two professional groups, the Steelers and DAZN Canada.
SPORTING NEWS: The 2020 NFL season is right here for the Steelers and the remainder of the league. Did you assume this may not occur this yr?
JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER: I truly did. Noticing that they had been canceling college, canceling sporting occasions all the world over — soccer, basketball, baseball — I type of misplaced hope. Then all of them began to come back again and I may very well be excited once more.
SN: Throughout this tough yr, how necessary has it been to have Mike Tomlin as the top coach to information you and your crew via it?
JJSS: It is superior. He is one of many few coaches of shade on this league. He is very clear on how he approaches all the pieces. The one factor he would not do is shrink back from the problems — he is all the time about social justice. He brings it to the crew, he talks about it — how we will come collectively and set the stage. As a younger man, studying from somebody who’s been via it, going via it now, for him to have youngsters who’re my age, too, it exhibits quite a bit. I dwell and study from him day in, day trip, on the sector and off the sector.
SN: With your self, Diontae Johnson, rookie first-round decide Chase Claypool (a local of Abbotsford, B.C.) and James Washington, is that this the very best receiving corps you will have been round?
JJSS: Not simply our receiving corps, however having James Conner again, Jaylen Samuels, Vance McDonald, too. Eric Ebron has a variety of video games beneath his belt and is a professional. To have Chase, he brings quite a bit to our crew as a deep menace. For us to go on the market, will probably be a enjoyable yr.
SN: How a lot completely different is the offensive vibe now than it was with out Ben Roethlisberger for many of final season?
JJSS: One among our greatest components, a Corridor of Fame quarterback, Huge Ben, is again. Enjoying with him simply my first two years, these occasions you keep in mind how a lot he means. Everybody’s wholesome and everybody’s prepared once more to point out what the Steelers are manufactured from.
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SN: There’s been some type of nice offseason buzz associated to the opposite groups within the AFC North, led by the Ravens. Do you are feeling such as you guys are flying beneath the radar a bit within the division race?
JJSS: These groups are nice groups with wonderful gamers, however on the finish of the day, while you speak in regards to the Steelers’ protection, how dominant they’re, Huge Ben when he is wholesome, guys who he has round him, it is our time to exit and make an announcement on Monday evening. We’re right here, we’re again within the AFC North — and we’ll run the desk.
SN: What had been your impressions of simply how massive, quick and gifted Chase is as a rookie?
JJSS: Coming in at 6-Four, with the ability to run a Four.Four (within the 40-yard sprint), it is loopy. The child is blessed. He is began out on a superb foot and doing the fitting issues for us. I am unable to wait to see what he does in his first recreation. I am excited.
SN: Though there isn’t any USC-Notre Dame recreation this yr, are you continue to having fun with having Chase signify the Irish vs. you, the Trojan?
JJSS: That is one of many first issues we talked about — the Shamrock, the rivalry. I performed towards him when he was there and we beat them. With me and Zach Banner, we will sit up for it yearly with Chase and Stephon Tuitt — the loser has to do pushups, issues like that. It is actually humorous.
SN: USC retains churning out gifted NFL receivers — it is Michael Pittman Jr. this yr, with Amon-Ra St. Brown able to hit the league quickly. What’s it in regards to the Trojans program and wideouts reminiscent of you and the Rams’ Robert Woods?
JJSS: I actually imagine with USC, how prestigious of a school it’s, we’re all moving into with that mindset, we’re coming right here, we’ll play our three years and we’ll exit. Lots of large receivers there try this. The preparation — I had Tee Martin once I was there — to go on the market and ball, know the performs, know what I am doing, is nice. The way in which USC runs a playbook is just about how NFL groups runs theirs, and the extra you realize, the extra you possibly can play properly.
We additionally do particular groups properly there. I did punt and kick returns in school, and I used to be ready to try this within the NFL. The transition was straightforward for me after it was actually enjoyable. That is why yearly we’ve an ideal large receiver who comes out.
SN: If you attached with DAZN Canada a few yr in the past, did you know the way in style the NFL and your crew was up there?
JJSS: Chase, he talked about how he was an enormous Steelers fan in Vancouver. Toronto, Winnipeg — it is so loopy how massive our Steelers fan base is. To have Steeler Nation like that up there, it is fairly cool.
SN: How a lot do you like working with DAZN?
JJSS: We have accomplished some wonderful issues with not simply soccer, however boxing and different occasions. It was enjoyable representing them within the Tremendous Bowl in Miami. The most important factor with DAZN Canada is it’s also possible to watch NFL RedZone together with all of the video games. We’re doing a little wonderful issues at DAZN. It is superior for me to be a DAZN consultant as a result of we’ve an enormous Steelers fan base in Canada and I can get my title on the market. It is an ideal partnership, I like working with them and hopefully we’ve many extra years to come back.
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SN: If Steelers followers in Canada do not have DAZN, why is now the fitting time to subscribe?
JJSS: DAZN has extra dwell soccer than anybody else in Canada. For those who’ve by no means seen RedZone, you are lacking out on all the massive performs. For those who’re an enormous fantasy man like me and also you wish to see all of your gamers rating touchdowns and have a good time, DAZN is the place it is at. I am going to be sure that to rely my fantasy factors — and I am going to rely everybody else’s, too. You have to keep tuned.