JuJu Smith-Schuster Q&A: Steelers star on Ben Roethlisberger, new offense and potential jersey number swap

Few NFL players offer as much personality as the Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. From pre-game dancing to “Fortnite” cameos, the former Pro Bowler is also integral to Pittsburgh’s efforts to return to the title in 2021. A favorite of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is back for at least Another run at Steel City, the 24-year-old passer briefly flirted with other teams in free agency in March, weighing offers from AFC foes like the Chiefs and Ravens. But he’s safe in Pittsburgh until 2022, with a chance to reset his market and bring the Steelers their first Lombardi Trophy in more than a decade.

He also has a brand new partnership with Charmin. Yes, that’s right, the toilet paper company. In preparation for the 2021 season, JuJu sat down with CBS Sports to discuss Big Ben, the revamped Pittsburgh offense, his future jersey number, memories of draft day and even how crazy he is. is ready to help people take bathroom breaks:

Draw weekend, what do you remember from your own draw day? Did you know Pittsburgh was a likely landing point?

JuJu: I thought I wouldn’t be anywhere near Pennsylvania or Pittsburgh. They didn’t seem very interested. I talked to Coach T for maybe two to three minutes. So I didn’t see myself ending up here. I saw myself somewhere like Arizona, Dallas Cowboys, LA Rams, 49ers – those were the teams I thought I would go to. And I was just nervous, you know, 20 years old. Once you’ve been chosen, however, at this point it’s all about getting ready to go.

Speaking of the draft, how much do you think Najee Harris will change the Steelers’ offense?

JuJu: I think he changes her enormously. You know, we lost a teammate to James Conner. And (Najee’s) a guy who’s been on the big stage. Coach T called me about it, told me to contact him, and I said to Coach T: ‘Finally, you drafted an attacking player in the first round.’ Because our defense, there are at least eight to ten first-round players. So it’s gonna be awesome.

You’ve talked a lot about returning to Pittsburgh because of Ben Roethlisberger. Do you think there is a lot left in the tank?

JuJu: I believe. I think he has something left. A lot of people have just lost their age, but he’s a guy who’s been doing it at the highest level for a while. I would definitely take him above most other guys because although he’s older his experience is up there. Also, when you lose guys like Maurkice Pouncey, like Al Villanueva, it’s hard to find leaders. Now it might be Dave DeCastro and me, but I’m still young so it’s important that way too.

What does your relationship with new coordinator Matt Canada look like and what do you think his offense will look like?

JuJu: Coach Matt is definitely a guy I’ve talked to a lot (last year), just discussing some games we should have called last season. Even those first two weeks of setup, we got into it – a lot of movement, a lot of different things, guys on the move. And with him you have to know all the positions too, you can’t know just one place.

Does that mean we’ll see you on the pitch or throw a pass this year?

JuJu: (Laughs) I don’t know all of this, but that would be fun.

You alluded to the possibility of changing your number from # 19 to # 9 under New Jersey rules. Will it happen?

JuJu: Everyone is going to want single digit numbers now, so that might be difficult. Also, I’ve marketed 19 of them a bit over the past four years, so there would be a lot of fans who would have to black out the “1” on their shirts. But I had a very good reception at “9”. So I could do that. Or I can just keep 19. … Right now I would say I’m 50-50, honestly.

What’s wrong with your Charmin partnership? How did this happen and what does it imply?

JuJu: I think we spend half of our life in the bathroom. And these days, when everyone is doing things virtually – Zoom meetings, interviews – I often find myself having to use the bathroom. So they reached out and I wondered what it was? Like toilet paper? But it’s funny. … So there are 80 to 100 of us – coaches, players – in the meetings that we have, and it can be weird for us to say, “Yo Coach, can I go to the bathroom? So Charmin makes a ‘BRB Bot’ where an AI JuJu will come and take your place if you have to go to the bathroom. So a virtual JuJu will come in and do what you need: talk, laugh, whatever. … It’s in beta right now, but it’s really cool.

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