USC freshman WR JuJu Smith dazzles in No. 9
JuJu Smith didn’t shy away from the emotions he felt heading into his collegiate debut. Smith’s first time in a USC uniform was a memorable one for many reasons.
"As a little kid I always watched the Trojans and I almost shed a tear just coming out (of the tunnel)," Smith said, following the team’s 52-13 victory over Fresno State at the Coliseum on Saturday. "When I stepped on the field and I caught that (first) ball after that I finally realized this is really happening. This is the Trojan family. This is the way of life."
During the remainder of the game, he kept his emotions in check.
As he made play after play in his No. 9 jersey, USC fans and alums alike, couldn’t help but think of a previous No. 9 who electrified the Coliseum crowd during his time as a Trojan.
Former Trojan, Dion Bailey, mentioned that former teammate in a tweet while watching Smith during Saturday’s win:
Something about the ppl who wear that #9 man !!!! @TeamLee1 are you still at sc bruh or am i seeing things??
— Dion Bailey (@dbailey_18) August 31, 2014
It’s about as small a sample size as you can have, but after just one game, it’s tough to ignore the similarities of Smith and Lee.
Of course there’s the No. 9. Smith, as a freshman, has a similar upper body build to what Lee had during his last season at USC, particularly in his arms. Of course, at 6’2" 210 pounds, Smith is the more impressive physical specimen.
Both were highly regarded safeties coming out of high school but elected to play wide receiver and turned heads during fall camp to demand playing time as a true freshmen.
The breakaway speed factor is no comparison with Lee holding a huge edge.
However, Smith did something in his first game neither Lee or Robert Woods did in theirs — he had a 100-yard receiving debut.
One of 11 true freshman to take the field against Fresno State, Smith finished the day with four receptions for 123 yards, with two grabs of over 40 yards.
"Coming out here I knew I had to execute, explosion plays, but I didn’t expect to have a big game like this," Smith said.
As a result, he’s now listed as a starter on the depth chart heading into Saturday’s Pac-12 opener at No. 11 Stanford.