Photo courtesy of JuJu Smith-Schuster’s Twitter page.
Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has been selected as the 2017 recipient of the Polynesian Pro Football Player of the Year Award presented by Hawaiian Airlines, the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame announced Thursday.
The 6-foot-2-inch Long Beach native of Samoan ancestry graduated from Poly High before playing college ball at USC where he immediately made a huge impact. He was the youngest NFL draftee last year at age 20 when he was selected in the second round by the Steelers as the 62nd overall pick.
Smith-Schuster helped lead the Steelers to a 13-3 regular season record this year and he ended the season with 58 catches for 917 yards and seven touchdowns and added 240 yards and a touchdown on nine kick returns, according to a release.
He became the youngest player in NFL history to amass 1,000 all-purpose yards in a season and set a Steelers franchise record for most receiving yards by a rookie, the release stated.
“On behalf of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Board of Directors, we congratulate JuJu on a historic season,” said Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Chairman Jesse Sapolu in a statement. “He truly represents the very best of our Polynesian culture.”
The Polynesian Pro Football Player of the Year Award recognizes the most outstanding professional football player of Polynesian ancestry, according to the release. Arizona Cardinals offensive guard Mike lupati was selected as the inaugural recipient in 2015 and Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was selected in 2016.
Smith-Schuster will be formally presented with the award during the Polynesian football Hall of Fame celebration dinner January 19 and will be recognized at the Polynesian Bowl the next day in Hawaii. JuJu serves as a Polynesian Bowl Ambassador for this year’s game.