Walking the line between excelling at your first job and staying up all night because of your active social life is a cross so many of us bear at the age of 21. JuJu Smith-Schuster, the star rookie wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, is just balancing it much better than most of us.
When he’s not catching passes from Ben Roethlisberger on any given NFL Sunday, Smith-Schuster is your typical 21-year-old. The former USC Trojan manages to upload weekly videos to his YouTube channel, where his nearly 182,000 subscribers can watch him do everything from making a Primanti’s sandwich to hitchhiking. He has a French bulldog named Boujee, who probably — well, definitely — has more followers on Instagram than you. And he stays up all night playing video games. Smith-Schuster did all of this and more while being named the Steelers’ rookie of the year, with 58 catches for 917 yards and seven touchdowns in his first season in the league.
The California native is adjusting to life in the Steel City, but don’t expect him to say “yinz” anytime soon. He quickly chopped it up with The Undefeated after hosting a Call of Duty: World War II livestream with the newly minted first-ballot Hall of Famer Randy Moss in the lead-up to the Super Bowl.
You survived your first winter in Pittsburgh. How traumatized are you?
It was crazy! I left my pizza in the car, and literally overnight it straight froze. It’s really cold. It’s a new thing for me.
So are you trading in the sand for the snow?
I don’t mind the snow. I feel like it’s to our advantage when you live in it and play in it.
Have you tried snowboarding?
No, I want to! I feel like it would be easier than skiing, no?
What would you do if you didn’t play football?
Professional gamer. I can spit gum high in the air, like 10 feet, and catch it in my mouth, but I don’t think I can get paid for that.
Aside from yourself, of course, who’s the best Call of Duty player in the NFL?
Le’Veon Bell. I have to say him because he’s my teammate. He’ll probably laugh if I don’t say him, but he’s up there for sure.
Your dog, Boujee, has quite the following on Instagram …
That dude loves it [in Los Angeles]. He does photo shoots. He likes those.
Are you the photographer?
Yeah, me — and he has a professional photographer. His page is starting to blow up, so they have to be professional.
What would your superpower be?
To control people’s minds.
What advice would you give to your even younger self?
Take the opportunity to get to know the people around you.