Long Beach (Calif.) Poly safety Juju Smith participated in the Polynesian All-American Bowl this past weekend, and said the experience was an important one for him.
"Honestly, I wanted to play so I could give back to the community a bit," Smith said. "This was an important experience because it's so big in the Polynesian community. So many kids are in this game who don't get any exposure, so it's big if some guys with a little more can play in it."
The five-star's Polynesian roots are important to him, which is something that schools are now using to recruit him. With new running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu ensconced at UCLA, Smith has heard a new pitch from the coaching staff in Westwood that has him thinking a little harder about the Bruins: use his football platform to give back to the Polynesian community. Polamalu's nephew, Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu, has a foundation set up to provide charitable works and donations throughout Samoa and the other island communities, and Coach Polamalu has pitched Smith on doing the same.
"Coach Polamalu has been really influential for me," Smith said. "He was recruiting me back when I was a freshman in high school. He really has me thinking more about UCLA—even though I grew up a USC fan, I could see myself being a Bruin."
Smith said he has talked to Troy Polamalu about his foundation, and about general life advice, but that the former USC safety has steered clear of trying to push him toward one school or the other.
Smith said that he'll likely trim his list to four, and judging by a large hint he gave at the end of the interview, those four will be Notre Dame, Oregon, UCLA, and USC. He said he has one more official visit—to USC on the 24th—but is planning on unofficially visiting UCLA mid-week this week as well.
He'll also have several coaches in-home, including a visit from the UCLA coaching staff, throughout the month, but wasn't sure of dates.
Smith's Recruitment Winding Down
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