Good Juju

Good Juju

Long Beach (CA.) Polytechnic safety Juju Smith has a dozen offers and an early top five. Right after Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen and defensive line coach Chad Kauha'aha'a extended him a scholarship offer, Smith put Wisconsin near the top of his list.

MADISON - Long Beach (CA.) Polytechnic junior safety Juju Smith is one of the most heralded recruits out of California this year and has multiple offers already from some of biggest powerhouses in the nation. Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen is proving that he will not be afraid of recruiting against anybody and recently offered Smith.

"I was in class and I got told by my teacher and coach that I was offered by Wisconsin and that I need to call Coach Chad (Kauha'aha'a)," Smith told Badger Nation. "Coach Chad is the area recruiter, so I called him and it was a good talk. We talked about academics, the program, the coaching staff and their team coming up, so it was great."

Starting with the former coaching staff, the Badgers began to make inroads in the state of California, including getting four-star quarterback Bart Houston two years ago from the San Francisco area. With Andersen and his staff having West Coast ties and signing two prospects from the region leading up to signing day, California will still be an important area for the Badgers.

"It is really rare for Wisconsin to come out here to offer someone from the West, so it is big," said Smith. "It does help that now they are starting to recruit more guys out from the West. I expect some more offers to go out here and I mean we got the best of the best in the West. Now, I am going to do more research on them and keep in contact with them by talking to the coaches and getting to know them better."

Kauha'aha'a has been busy on the recruiting trail since the first day he has arrived in Madison and has clicked with Smith instantly.

"He is a good coach," said Smith. "(Tuesday) was my first day talking to him, actually to get to know him over the phone. He said they offered me and wanted me to play free safety, so it was a very good conversation. Coach Chad knew me from Utah and remembered even when he went to Wisconsin."

Wisconsin faces many challenges when recruiting West Coast players with negatives about the distance and the weather, but Smith looks at it the other way.

"To be honest with you, a lot of kids can whine about the weather or it is too far from home, but that's the way it is," said Smith. "If you want to play in the pros, you are not going to say to the coach it is too cold or too far away. That is not the issue. My perspective, I don't really care where a school is at. If the academics and coaches are good, then I'm fine and that is what it is."

The 6-1, 185-pound safety is constantly making news with his recruitment, but feels good on his top list that he has constructed from his 12 scholarship offers.

"As of right now, I think my top schools are USC, Michigan, Wisconsin, UCLA and California," said Smith. "All great schools, but that is my top list. Wisconsin is a great school and they are a big school in the Big Ten with Michigan and Ohio State. I will probably do a summer tour and visit many schools, but I might consider Wisconsin as one of my official visits."

Smith has been recognized by many college coaches from his outstanding performance on the field this past season, so it is no shocker that many are fascinated from his game, but also by his name.

"Most people call me Juju," he said. "A lot of people when they say my name of John Smith, it sounds like a fishermen name. Juju came from my auntie and she named me Juju because she didn't like Jojo or other nicknames. Everybody calls me Juju now.

"I am just another kid with big dreams trying to get to the next level. I want to be one of the best of the best. I'm really confident in what I do and try to stay positive. I try to keep my team up by being positive and I'm a humble kid, so I don't like to brag. I don't know why kids like to do that, but when I'm on the field, I don't talk, I just make plays. When it comes down to the point where I really want the ball, I just ballhawk and it is just what I do."

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