While JuJu Smith-Schuster awaits the final days before the 2017 NFL Draft, he penned a cover letter for The Players’ Tribune featuring a look-back at his time at USC.
JuJu Smith-Schuster heads into the 2017 NFL Draft as a high-upside wide receiver with differing opinions on when he’ll get his name called, leading to him making his case in a cover letter written on The Players’ Tribune, Derek Jeter’s player-voiced startup.
The introspective not only goes over how Smith-Schuster aims to perform in the NFL, but looks back at his iconic 2015 performance against Arizona.
A week after breaking his hand at Cal and just three days following surgery, Smith-Schuster defied just about everyone by not only playing, but putting in one of his best nights of the year. He totaled 138 receiving yards on eight catches, including a 72-yard touchdown in the Trojans’ 38-30 comeback win.
At the time, Smith-Schuster was dubbed ‘Superman’ by head coach Clay Helton, while others opted for the simple ‘warrior’ tag.
“I thought, how amazing would it be for a kid to come back after three days,” Smith-Schuster said in his postgame press conference.
Wednesday, he expanded on what would make it amazing. It wasn’t just the super-human ability to play with a broken bone in a very necessary body part a la Jack Youngblood, but the opportunity it brought.
"Before that Arizona game, I saw an opportunity for a new level of competition. I wasn’t going to be 100%. I knew I was going to have to fight through a lot of pain to play in that game. And that’s why I wanted to play. I looked at it as a new challenge. I wanted to prove to myself — not to anybody else — that I could still win battles even when I knew I wasn’t going to be at my best, and even when the guy across from me knew it, too. I won those battles. And we won the game."
He definitely won those battles, despite a custom cast on his right hand making it exceedingly difficult to catch footballs. But hey, if you’re JuJu Smith-Schuster and get your kicks on being challenged by absurdity, why not go for it?
It’s safe to say it’s a strong anecdote to give to NFL teams seeking a max-effort receiver driven by his own motivations.
In three seasons at USC, Smith-Schuster totaled 3,092 receiving yards, which puts him fifth all-time among Trojans. His 213 catches trail only Robert Woods, Marqise Lee and Dwayne Jarrett.