With Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster the center of attention for many members of the media in London, not to mention the 150 student athletes participating in the NFL Academy trials who were shouting his name whenever he came near, it would be fair to say that JuJu fever took over Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Tuesday.
From talking to the students before taking to the field for their trials, to offering practical advice as they took part in each test, Smith-Schuster was in high demand during his first trip to the U.K. as an NFL Academy ambassador.
The questions from the students ranging from who inspired him the most, to another about which wide receivers are his favorites.
Some wanted to know how it felt to have about his first reception in the NFL as a rookie, while my favorite student of the day was a young man who just wanted to give Smith-Schuster some respect for his block on Vontaze Burfict.
There were many questions from the students at the #NFLAcademy trials in London for #Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster on Tuesday, but my favorite was the one who mentioned former #Bengals, now #Raiders LB Vontaze Burfict: As per JuJu - "Still sleeping" pic.twitter.com/UFQhtXblPn— Simon Chester (@SimonAChester) July 3, 2019
And while opportunities to talk to the Steelers’ receiver were relatively limited throughout the day, we did get a chance to ask Smith-Schuster a question during his official press conference once the trials were over. A question about how different life is for him in the locker room now he is the team’s No.1 receiver.
“It is crazy, I mean. So, I’m in my room or meeting room and you’ve got guys who are 25, 26, 27, like, almost 30-years-old. And I’m 22-years-old, but I have the most experience of playing on the field and I’m talking to these guys who have kids, who have little kids running around ... I’m just a 22-year-old, being a leader and being vocal, and that’s something that was brought to me, to my doorstep and I’m embracing it.”
“I love to grow and being the No.1 guy and having the opportunity. But when the time comes, just like AB. AB got doubled-teamed, I’m going to get double-teamed and other guys are just going to have to step up. James Washington, Donte Moncrief, so many other guys are going to make their plays, James Conner.”
“Ben loves to throw the ball. We had two receivers that went for over 1000 yards and 100 catches each. Now that AB’s gone, there’s more balls out there, there’s more yards for other players to make their plays. Super excited.”
With Smith-Schuster signed up to be an NFL ambassador for the foreseeable future, the students at the academy should get used to seeing the Steelers receiver around campus in the years to come. Hopefully one of them might even be able to make it to the NFL to join him before his career is over too.