Photo by Percy Anderson.
After establishing himself at Long Beach Poly two years ago as a blue-chip college football prospect and being called a “once-in-a-lifetime” athlete by his Poly head coach Raul Lara, wide receiver John “JuJu” Smith-Schuster chose to play his college ball at USC, where he immediately made a huge impact in his freshman year last season. This year, Smith-Schuster is currently #6 in total receiving yards in the NCAA Division 1, and is one of the stars of a resurgent Trojan team that’s in the thick of the PAC-12 Rose Bowl race.
Smith-Schuster took a few moments away from his preparation for this weekend’s game against the Oregon Ducks to answer a few questions for the Long Beach Post.
Long Beach Post: What are the main differences between high school football at Long Beach Poly and college football at USC?
Smith-Schuster: I don’t think there’s a big difference. Everyone is very competitive at Poly and that’s how it is here, too. The only thing different is the age and how much faster everything is. When I was at Poly, we didn’t have a hurry-up offense. Here, it’s fast-tempo. That’s the only difference.
What music do you listen to when you’re preparing for a game?
I start off mellow, listening to John Legend. From there, I get into Future, Drake; people nowadays putting out great music.
Do you get a large contingent of family and friends to show up for home games at the Coliseum?
Yes! I get at least 40-50 a game. The most will be about 100 against UCLA because I’m having a birthday party after the game.
Who are some of your mentors, football-wise and in life in general?
My mentor, when I got here, was [USC wide receiver] Nelson Agholor. He taught me everything, on and off the field. To this day, I still talk to him. Also my coaches, like Tee Martin and Clay Helton.
How is the team responding to this week’s challenges?
We are just trying to stay consistent week-to-week and do our best to win our remaining games [at Oregon this Saturday and against UCLA at the Coliseum November 28].
Above, right: Smith-Schuster during the 2013 Poly football season. Photo by Matt Cohn.
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