LOS ANGELES -- Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster grew up in Long Beach, California, and didn’t have to travel far to play college ball for USC.
So staying close to home and playing for the Los Angeles Rams or the Los Angeles Chargers wouldn’t be a bad option, Smith-Schuster told reporters after participating in the Trojans' pro day Wednesday.
“It would be nice to stay home,” Smith-Schuster said. “My family’s down the street, which is another reason why I stayed at SC.
“The opportunity for me to stay close is you’ve got the Chargers, you’ve got the Rams, the 49ers and the Oakland Raiders, which could be [as close] as a three-hour drive in Las Vegas, and then go to the game. So why not? The percentage is high for me to stay home.”
Of course, Smith-Schuster understands he has little say in the matter.
Smith-Schuster said he had a formal interview with the Chargers at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, with receivers coach Nick Sirianni among those participating, but Smith-Schuster has no pre-draft visit scheduled with the team as of yet.
The Rams have the No. 37 overall pick in the draft and still need receivers. They don’t have much depth behind Tavon Austin, Robert Woods and Pharoh Cooper, a fourth-round pick from 2016 who barely played as a rookie.
Also, none of the receivers expected to get offensive snaps are taller than 6 feet.
“Let them know I’m interested,” Schuster joked, when asked about the possibility of playing for the Chargers. The Chargers had a scout on hand at the USC pro day.
Smith-Schuster, 20, stood on his 40-yard time of 4.54 seconds from the combine but improved his vertical jump to 33.5 inches and his broad jump to 10 feet, 3 inches.
He also ran crisp routes and caught the ball cleanly, including an acrobatic grab on a post-corner route that brought the crowd to their feet toward the end of the workout.
ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has Schuster ranked as the ninth-best receiver in this year’s draft. At 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, Schuster said he has the speed to beat a defender vertically but also the size and toughness to make contested catches over the middle at the next level.
“I don’t know where I see myself going,” Smith-Schuster said. “But honestly, I’m going to embrace it and live without fear for the next four or five years -- or however long it goes -- and have an opportunity to live out my dreams.”