JuJu Smith-Schuster relishes position as Steelers’ No. 1 hype man

PITTSBURGH — Nonetheless holding the soccer after he scored for the second time this season, Pittsburgh Steelers vast receiver James Washington left out to JuJu Smith-Schuster — who was ready for him ultimately zone.

Smith-Schuster stooped and hoisted the 5-foot-11, 213-pound receiver throughout his shoulders, holding on to his proper leg with one hand and his proper hand with the opposite as he twirled Washington round. Tight finish Eric Ebron grabbed the ball in Washington’s outstretched left hand and jumped in a circle across the pair as he held the ball within the air.

It ought to come as no shock the celebration was Smith-Schuster’s brainchild.

“We truly did not observe that,” Washington stated. “That was simply JuJu simply pondering. So we had been form of pondering like ‘The Contemporary Prince of Bel-Air,’ the place they form of picked [Will Smith] up and spun him on the courtroom.”

Washington, in fact, is describing a second within the intro to the favored Nineties sitcom, which aired its finale six months earlier than the 23-year-old Smith-Schuster was born. Even nonetheless, it is related in at present’s popular culture — particularly for a child from Los Angeles.

“One thing all of us grew up with and I might say all of us watched is ‘Contemporary Prince of Bel-Air,'” Smith-Schuster stated. “It’s totally humorous that we are able to relate to that. So I choose up James, spun him round. The boys round me, we’re simply having fun with our time. A variety of our celebrations both might come the night time earlier than, the week earlier than and even the sequence earlier than we go on the market. In the event you rating a number of touchdowns with a number of vast receivers, after we run out of celebrations, we make them up as we go.”

By way of 5 video games, Smith-Schuster appears much less like Pittsburgh’s No. 1 receiver and extra like its No. 1 hype man — and that’s not a knock.

It is a byproduct of the balanced passing assault, one which’s given Smith-Schuster loads of alternatives to get inventive with TD celebrations and energize his teammates.

“He’s the enjoyable chief within the group,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger stated. “He brings a number of vitality and pleasure to the staff. That is what we’re enthusiastic about. Once I stated final week that he was excited for different guys, what you see on Sunday is what you get with JuJu. He’s that man. That is really who he’s; he is not placing on a present. He loves taking part in the sport and he loves the teammates, and I feel that may be a nice mixture.”

Coming into a contract 12 months tabbed because the No. 1 vast receiver, it could be simple for Smith-Schuster to get upset about having modest totals for targets (28), yards (194), touchdowns (3) and receptions (23). However that is not his perspective. Praised by Roethlisberger every week in the past for his selflessness throughout Chase Claypool‘s huge day, Smith-Schuster echoed that perspective on Wednesday, after his lowest receiving yard whole since his rookie debut: two receptions for six yards.

“Individuals had been speaking about ‘He solely bought me two factors this week for fantasy.’ I used to be like, ‘Nicely, I imply, I might moderately have two factors and be 5-0 than to be 1-4 and to have 25 fantasy factors,” Smith-Schuster stated. “So for me, I prefer it for myself, so I am at all times having enjoyable regardless.”

Coming into Sunday’s sport towards the unbeaten Tennessee Titans (1 p.m. ET, CBS), Roethlisberger has thrown 11 touchdowns to 5 completely different move catchers, together with one to Ebron, the tight finish.

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Titans reporter Turron Davenport and Steelers reporter Brooke Pryor preview the quarterback matchup between Ryan Tannehill and Ben Roethlisberger.

“I simply really feel like we’ve got so many weapons, you simply by no means know who’s gonna have a day,” Washington stated. “With as many mouths to feed on offense as we’ve got, you possibly can’t simply hold one man or two guys, as a result of I really feel like everybody’s able to having a giant sport.”

Roethlisberger, who entered the 12 months considerably involved about constructing chemistry along with his newer receivers in an abbreviated offseason, is confidently spreading the ball round. And every week, a sizzling goal emerges.

Just lately it’s been the rookie Claypool and Washington, however Smith-Schuster had two landing catches within the season opener towards the New York Giants. To have a good time his first, he did the “Who’s Subsequent?” dance, popularized on TikTok, and Ebron and Diontae Johnson joined in.

“TikTok is fashionable proper now,” Smith-Schuster instructed teammate Bud Dupree on Dupree’s internet sequence. “So we seize the followers from TikTok and get them to tune in and get my teammates concerned. The extra folks you have got, the higher it’s. Everybody’s like, ‘Oh my god, no he didn’t simply do this.'”

After the second landing, he ran to the objective line and lay on his abdomen in entrance of the pylon digital camera, cradled his face in his fingers and kicked his toes backwards and forwards behind him. He initially deliberate to select up the pylon digital camera for a selfie, he instructed Dupree, however when he had checked with a referee forward of time, he was instructed that wasn’t allowed.

Smith-Schuster does not simply have a good time when he will get into the top zone. He additionally helps his teammates provide you with choreography.

He bought Claypool on TikTok and taught him a few of the viral dances, one thing that got here in fairly helpful in Claypool’s four-touchdown day towards the Philadelphia Eagles.

In one among Claypool’s celebrations, he mimed that the soccer was glued to his hand. Then Smith-Schuster and Washington ran over and pretended to tug the ball actually onerous. All three of them fell over because the ball got here “unstuck” from Claypool’s glove. On one other TD, operating again James Conner pretended to field Claypool within the nook. The following time, Claypool ran again to the top zone, pretending to assist Washington reel in a fish, performed by Smith-Schuster. Then Washington and Claypool posed with the horizontal Smith-Schuster on the sector.

“I am having enjoyable on a regular basis, whether or not I get the ball or not, whether or not I get two catches for 10 yards or I get six catches for 60 yards,” Smith-Schuster stated. “For me, it is extra so in regards to the staff, the environment. If our protection is having enjoyable and so they’re doing their job, offense is having enjoyable, my teammates are having enjoyable, I are available in with the celebrations.”

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