(Photo via JuJu Smith-Shusters Instagram)
Last season didn't go as planned for JuJu Smith-Schuster. Ben Roethlisberger went down in Week 2 and JuJu had to play with back-up quarterback's Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges for the rest of the season. The Steelers ended up going 8-8 and just missing the playoffs. JuJu said last season he is very hard on himself about the game of football and life in general.
“I’m very, very hard on myself, I’ve always been in everything I do”, the 23-year-old told reporters. “That’s just the nature I put myself in."
It has been very obvious since the Steelers have drafted JuJu that he has always been very emotional. He truly cares about the game of football and generally loves to have fun outside of it. JuJu is 23 years old he's still very young. Mike Tomlin has even acknowledged this and said it is his responsibility to show JuJu the way toward maturing.
"It's the normal maturation of a player who is extremely talented and had a lot of early success and at times faced the natural adversity that the game of football presents," Tomlin said. "Be it injury or injury to those around you. Or the attention that comes with being a quality player. JuJu is very experienced, but he is a relatively young guy. He was 20 when we drafted him. It is my job to assist him in natural growth and maturation, and that is an element of the job that I embrace."
JuJu has since moved on from his dreadful 2019 season and is ready to get this new season started with his number one QB Ben Roethlisberger, but it still hasn't hit him and probably won't until pregame on Monday. JuJu has acknowledged he hasn't had the pregame jitters yet, but come Monday it will probably hit him. He is ready to showcase his ability on Monday Night Football, but he realizes there is some unknown going into the game without fans in the stadium. He can't really explain how he is going to feel until he hits the field on Monday.
"It hasn't really hit me yet," Smith-Schuster said. "I think it'll probably hit me when we actually get there. We start traveling. We're in a hotel the night before. That's when it'll finally hit me. To be our first game showcased on Monday night football will also be cool. But to be out there with no fans, I can't really explain how I'm going to feel until that day comes."
Smith-Schuster has complimented Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson on a great job they have done in camp and expects both of them to be impact players in Week 1. JuJu has been working with personal trainer Corey Calliett in the offseason. Calliett says he has been trying to break JuJu every day that he has trained with him.
“I was trying to break him every day,” Calliet said. “That was my goal. If I can break you every day, the little stuff you do on the field that you’re good at, that’s going to be easy.”
JuJu is expecting a huge year for himself this season because this is his contract year. JuJu says it was his goal to get someone this offseason who will help mentor him on and off the field. He also has said he is 100% ready. Smith-Schuster is ready to go out there with his guys and win.
"It was ideal for me to have a one-on-one session, have a mentor on the field and off the field. It's helped me so much," Smith-Schuster said. "Going into this season, I'm 100% ready. My preparation is good. I can't wait to go out there and play ball with my guys and win a game."
Ben Roethlisberger coming back will give JuJu the extra boost he needs this season. JuJu says this is going to be his bounce-back year. He has trained extremely hard during the offseason and can't wait until he hits the field during primetime on Monday Night Football against the Giants.