John Smith to USC: Trojans Land 5-Star Safety Prospect

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistFebruary 5, 2014

Credit: 247Sports

It remains to be seen whether John "JuJu" Smith will play safety or wide receiver at the college level. Whichever position he ends up filling, he'll be doing it for USC.

ESPN reported his decision on Wednesday:

At 6'1" and 200 pounds, Smith seems capable of playing either position with great success. He finished the 2012 season with 49 receptions for 752 yards and nine touchdowns. He added 51 tackles and six interceptions on the defensive side of the ball.

According to 247Sports' composite rankings, Smith is the No. 20 overall recruit in the nation, the No. 3 player at his position and the second-best prospect from the state of California in the 2014 class.


While the coaching staff may see it a different way, Smith does prefer the offensive side of the ball, as he told Lane Kiffin (then with USC) on a visit to the school in late February a year ago, per Blair Angulo of

Lane Kiffin pulled the electric Long Beach (Calif.) Poly two-way standout aside Sunday afternoon and asked him which side of the ball he prefers. Smith was blunt, telling the Trojans coach the defensive side of the ball is great, but playing offense makes him happy. 

Smith added, "I don't want to play a position where I'm not happy. I like defense, but I don't want to have any regrets."

Smith is pretty polished at both positions. At wide receiver, he shows good hands, is excellent after the catch and looks like a player who will be able to run a full route tree. He's athletic enough to be a deep threat but also has the build to hold up over the middle.

Defensively, he's a natural, rangy free safety who would be a constant interception threat playing over the top. He also shows the physicality to make plays in the running game or stick a receiver coming across the middle.

Wherever he ends up playing, he should make an impact in his college career. Perhaps he'll even reach the lofty standards of former two-way stars like Charles Woodson. The man they call JuJu has some serious game.



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