Juju Talks UCLA, USC Visits

Long Beach Poly (Calif.) athlete John "Juju" Smith took an official visit to USC this past weekend and unofficial visit Monday night to UCLA, and provides us a timetable on when he wants to make his decision...

Juju Smith is one of the nation's top two-way talents with the ability to play safety or receiver at the next level. With offers from schools all over the country, Smith recently narrowed his list to a final four that includes Notre Dame, Oregon, UCLA and USC. He took his final official visit of the year last weekend to USC.

"It was a good visit, I enjoyed meeting the new staff and bonding some more with the players," Smith said. "I don't really know too many of the new coaches that well. I know Tee Martin and [Smith's uncle] Johnny (Nansen) of course. I got to talk to Keith Heyward and Sark (Sarksian) and it was good. I have a better feel for those guys now and I'm comfortable with them.

"I've been to USC before but this was visit different because I got to spend a lot more time on the academic side. I want to major in Kinesiology and maybe become a chiropractor or go in to sport medicine so that was good for me. I never really toured the whole campus before but it was really nice. I found out who all the buildings are named after and I learned a lot about the school."

From a football standpoint, Smith said what side of the ball he plays on is up to him.

"They're going to leave it up to me and I want to do receiver," Smith said. "They don't have as much depth there so I think I can come in and make an impact. Plus receiver is where my heart is at, it's always been my favorite position. I still think I might have the most long-term potential at safety but for now, I'm going to give receiver a shot.

"The highlight of the visit was probably getting to hang out with Damien (Mama), Viane (Talamaivao) and Toa (Lobendahn). We're really close and, if we all ended up at USC together, it would be great to play with those guys. They're like family to me and that's definitely a big factor in my decision."

Monday night, Smith took an unofficial visit to UCLA.

"I've been wanting to check out UCLA for a while now," Smith said. "When I was on my visit to USC, I actually told my mom we need to go and give UCLA a look and see what they have to offer. It's really nice there and I enjoyed walking around the campus and spending time with the coaches.

"I've known Kennedy Polamalu since I was a freshman and since he got to UCLA, I've considered them a lot more. We have a strong connection and I think UCLA is a good fit for me. I like Coach Mora a lot, we had a chance to sit down at the end of the visit and he's a great guy. I know he's going to be there for a while, he turned down some big jobs to stay at UCLA.

"They told me I could decide what side of the ball I want to play on as well. I talked with both Coach (Eric) Yarber and Coach (Demetrice) Martin but I spent more time with the offensive coaches. Coach Yarber told me I could come in and be an impact player so I'm giving UCLA a hard look."

Smith said the recruiting process has been pretty overwhelming to him and he's looking forward to it coming to an end soon.

"It's been very stressful," Smith said. "As of today, I still don't know what school to choose. Oregon and Notre Dame are coming for home visits Wednesday and USC will be in on Thursday. UCLA wants to come back as well but we don't have a date yet.

"Both USC and UCLA invited me up to the campus this week for a visit but I think I'm just going to stay at home with my family and relax. Both schools are having Super Bowl partys with the coaches and recruits but I just need a weekend to be along and figure everything out.

"I was talking to my mom about actually taking one last visit to Oregon this weekend but I don't know if that's going to happen. That was my mom's idea, she knows how much I like them and thought it would be cool to see them again. Sunday night, hopefully I'll have my decision and then I'll announce it on ESPN on Signing Day. I think it will be at 12:00 or 1:00, but I don't know for sure. It's going to be a tough decision but I'm praying constantly, asking God for guidance to help me make the right choice here."

Greg Biggins has been covering recruiting for almost 20 years, covering the West since the mid-1990's and currently serves as a national analyst for Scout.com/FOXSportsNext.
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