Chiefs’ JuJu Smith-Schuster hopes L.A. will catch his super act

While playing at Long Beach Poly High and USC, JuJu Smith-Schuster dreamed of one day playing in the Super Bowl.

Six years into his NFL career, Smith-Schuster will get his chance.

The Kansas City Chiefs receiver could be a key player on Sunday when the Chiefs play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

“I’m super excited to represent Long Beach Poly and USC – and only Los Angeles,” said Smith-Schuster. “I will repeat the Super Bowl.”

Smith-Schuster, 26, played five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers before signing a one-year, $10.75 million contract with the Chiefs.

Juju Smith-Schuster makes a catch on the first day of spring training at USC's Howard Jones Field in 2016.

Juju Smith-Schuster makes a catch on the first day of spring training at USC’s Howard Jones Field in 2016.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The Chiefs then traded speedy Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins and signed receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, giving All-Pro quarterback Patrick Mahomes an almost entirely new receiving corps working with star tight end Travis Kelce.

Smith-Schuster caught 78 passes for 933 yards and three touchdowns.

“Great personality, so we’re so pleased with this addition,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Tuesday. “But he also complements Kelce.

“He has this ability to feel in space, openings, and Patrick relies on that. He’s safe, he’s great after a catch, hard to fall and he’s smart. He picked up all these things and he did well. Have the quarterback’s confidence. That costs a lot.”

Mahomes pointed out that Smith-Schuster’s value goes beyond his ability to run physical routes.

“The greatest thing is the joy he brings to the building every day,” Mahomes said, “and the work ethic.”

Smith-Schuster began his NFL career with the Steelers, who picked him in the second round of the 2017 draft.

In his sophomore season, Smith-Schuster caught 111 passes for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns and was selected to the Pro Bowl.

In 2020, Smith-Schuster had 97 catches, nine for touchdowns. But last season, Smith-Schuster caught 15 passes in five games before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.

So this season was an opportunity to show the Chiefs – and 31 other teams – that he can still produce.

“He’s one of those guys you just want to be around,” Valdes-Scantling said. “He’s always in a good mood. He brings great energy to the team and he’s a sidekick on the pitch.”

Kelce said Smith-Schuster made an impression in training camp. Despite being new to the team, he begged his teammates to do a few extra reps.

“Like ‘Hey man, I know we’re dog tired and the coaches are giving us a break here, but why not put in some of those extra reps,'” Kelce said of Smith-Schuster. “Things like that go far. It shows the guys your devotion, your devotion and how badly you want it and JuJu hasn’t shown otherwise since he’s been here.”

The transition to a new team, Smith-Schuster said, was made easier by the way he was greeted by teammates. The time they’ve spent together on and off the field has forged a strong bond and a selfless mindset.

“You have so many crazy players on the field and there’s a football and everyone wants to win,” he said. “I’m going to get two catches in the Super Bowl and with a W, and I’m going to be happy, so … just the chemistry that we all have together, we’re all in it for a reason.”

Smith-Schuster said he’s reminded of the greatness of Sunday’s game every time he studies his playbook and sees the Super Bowl LVII logo.

“I’ve been chasing a Super Bowl ring for six years,” he said. “I’m actually here, and it’s amazing.” Chiefs’ JuJu Smith-Schuster hopes L.A. will catch his super act

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