JuJu Smith-Schuster caps stellar first year with All-Rookie Team selection

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 31: JuJu Smith-Schuster
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 31: JuJu Smith-Schuster /

Former USC wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster capped his stellar first season in the NFL with a place on the PFWA’s All-Rookie Team.

While the deadline for underclassmen this year to declare for the NFL Draft has passed, JuJu Smith-Schuster continues to prove his decision to leave USC early last year was worth the risk.

The Steelers rookie was named to the Pro Football Writers Association All-Rookie Team on Tuesday after hauling in 58 catches for 917 yards and seven touchdowns in his debut season.

It’s been a busy year for Smith-Schuster, who earned trending status for his performance on and off the field. The receiver gained social media acclaim for a saga involving his stolen bicycle, later taking the plunge and getting his driver’s license.

Smith-Schuster also drew eyeballs as one of the NFL’s most entertaining celebrators with a series of choreographed touchdown celebrations, including a memorable game of hide-and-seek and a Dragon Ball Z reference.

Though he was also in the headlines for the wrong reasons, including a suspension for a hit an illegal hit on Vontaze Burfict, Smith-Schuster matched all of his eccentric off-field activities with on-field production.

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His quarterback sported a passer rating of 134.0 when targeting the rookie, per Pro Football Focus, a mark which rated the best among wide receivers in 2017 and the best by a rookie ever.

He also delivered in big moments, taking a slant route 97 yards for a touchdown to help the Steelers defeat the Lions. It was the longest receiving touchdown in Steelers history, per ESPN, and made Smith-Schuster the youngest player for Pittsburgh to record a 100-yard receiving game.

That’s not bad for a guy who was accused of being the “most overrated player in college football” by an anonymous scout in 2016.

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Smith-Schuster is the first Trojan rookie to be named to the All-Rookie Team since Leonard Williams made the cut in 2015. In recent years, offensive linemen Matt Kalil and Tyron Smith have also been honored for exceptional debut seasons in 2012 and 2011 respectively.