USC Football News: JuJu Smith Snubbed on Biletnikoff Watch List


With Nelson Agholor gone to the NFL, sophomore JuJu Smith looks like the next great USC wide receiver starting this year. Those handing out the Biletnikoff Award do not necessarily see the same potential right now, as Smith was left off the award’s annual watch list on Wednesday.

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There is precedent for this snub. Marqise Lee was not included on the original Biletnikoff watch list as a sophomore either, though they did correct that mistake within 24 hours. Of course, that was the year he went on to win the award.

Smith had a strong freshman season in 2014, which began with a school record 123 receiving yards for a freshman in his debut. Altogether, he totaled 55 receptions for 724 yards and five touchdowns, highlighted by a three-touchdown performance at Washington State.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Though not quite on the level that Lee was after his freshman season, Smith’s potential certainly could have gotten him recognized.

After all, Washington State’s River Cracraft is on the list with comparable numbers, as is Victor Bolden of Oregon State.

There are six sophomores on the list, all with better numbers than Smith, though not by much.

Going into this season, Smith looks to be the clear-cut No. 1 receiver at USC, though the spring performance of Steven Mitchell, along with the dazzling efforts of Adoree’ Jackson suggest that the Trojans could find themselves with a potent and deep receiving corps should everyone stay healthy.

The Trojans have had just one Biletnikoff Award winner since it was first handed out in 1994, with Marqise Lee taking home the honor in 2012. Lee was a Heisman contender that year, as he set a Pac-12 record with 118 catches for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns.

USC greats Keyshawn Johnson, Mike Williams, Dwayne Jarrett and Robert Woods were all finalists for the Biletnikoff, losing out to Terry Glenn, Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Hass and Justin Blackmon, respectively.

For Smith to earn the silverware, he’ll likely need a standout sophomore season similar to that of both Woods and Lee. Both set the conference record for receptions as sophomores in Lane Kiffin’s offense.

Kiffin also coached last year’s winner, Alabama’s Amari Cooper.

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