If Pittsburgh Steelers third-year wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster were to run for mayor of the city right now he’d probably win in a landslide. After all, what’s not to like about the 22 year-old USC product? He’s good with the fans, he’s does good in the community and oh yeah, he’s good on the football field as well. On Tuesday, Steelers wide receivers coach Darryl Drake professed his love of Smith-Schuster when he met the media for his annual mandatory minicamp session.
“He’s rare, he’s special,” Drake said of Smith-Schuster. “He embraces it. He is a little bit different in a great way, in a good way. I’ve had some guys that have an extent of that kind of spirit, but he is by far, you know, the class, he’s at the top of that. You know, with how he approaches things, how he approaches life. And I think he really has a true, the right perspective on it. He goes out and has fun in the community. He loves kids. He loves people, and that’s what makes him special. He’s a special guy. He really is.”
With wide receiver Antonio Brown being jettisoned to the Oakland Raiders via a trade this offsesson, Smith-Schuster not only will be expected to take over as the team’s no. 1 receiver in 2019, he’ll also be expected to be the leader of the position group on and off the field. On Tuesday, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made sure to emphasize that during his Tuesday media session.
“JuJu is a young guy, but a guy who has to expand on that leadership role, in his room especially,” Roethlisberger said, according to steelers.com. “That room has gelled. They have a lot of fun together. We just want to see JuJu continue to grow the way he has, the path he is on. It’s been fun to be around him and watch his growth every year.”
So far this offseason, Smith-Schuster seems to be up for both of those huge tasks at hand and the other wide receivers currently on the roster, all of which are older than he is, seem to be following his lead. There’s no drama currently associated with the Steelers wide receiver room so far this offseason and hopefully Smith-Schuster can play a huge part in keeping it that way all throughout the year. If that happens, it could wind up being a very lit year for the Steelers.
“Just being vocal, just being sure he’s setting an example,” Drake said, per Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “JuJu has a great feel for the offense. He has a great understanding of it. Being there as a resource on certain things, understanding how to get open, understanding coverage, reading safeties and knowing they’ll give you one look and give you another…. just his presence and him being vocal means a lot because he’s done it. When guys have done it and put their abilities on display it’s nice because he’s been through the battles he’s got that voice, and he’s using that voice. And we need for him to use that voice. JuJu is still young. He’s still growing. He has to continue to do. That’s his personality. He’s a different cat, just a special person. I’m glad he’s here.”