JuJu Smith-Schuster is already a superstar in Pittsburgh. He has that sort of larger-than-life persona that immediately endears people to him. And with former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown going off the deep end, the love with which the fan base has embraced him this offseason has only further expanded as he now becomes one of the faces of the franchise at just 22 years old.
And now he’s a superstar by Dan Hanzus’ standards, as well. Or at least that’s his projection. For some reason (that reason being needing content to fill), Hanzus has been keeping track of his informal ‘Superstar Club’ for years for the league’s website, and this year, he named Smith-Schuster as one of its latest members, projecting that A.J. Green would be on his way out.
A superstar isn’t all about production. Charisma counts, too. And JuJu checks both boxes. Very few wide receivers approach what Smith-Schuster accomplished in his first two seasons, and he now slides into Big Dog status with the Antonio Brown circus setting up shop in Grudenland. Look for JuJu to put up Brown-like production in 2019, minus the headaches. The craziest part? Smith-Schuster doesn’t even turn 23 until late November. He is the bridge from the Big Ben era to whatever comes next in Pittsburgh.
A second-round pick in 2017, Smith-Schuster became the second-youngest player to record 1000 all-purpose yards in a season. He caught 58 passes for 917 yards with seven receiving touchdowns that year, but he also registered 240 return yards on nine kick returns, including a 96-yard touchdown.
Last season, he exploded on offense as a full-time starter with 111 receptions for 1426 yards and another seven touchdowns. He led the team in the former two categories, the first time in a while that that distinction didn’t belong to Brown.
Smith-Schuster recorded over 100 receiving yards in eight games a year ago, including a high of 189, which is not even the most he has recorded in a single game in his career (he put up 193 yards against the Detroit Lions as a rookie the year before). He also caught over 10 passes in a game three times in 2018.
It goes without saying that he made a number of clutch plays as well. The only blemish of significance on his resume from last season would be the costly fumble at the end of the New Orleans Saints game, as the offense was looking to take back the lead. It resulted in the Steelers losing control of their playoff destiny, but it shouldn’t overshadow how much of his efforts caused the team to even be in a position to control their fate up to that point.