Smith-Schuster named Biletnikoff semifinalist

Tal Volk

Tal Volk

Sophomore wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was announced as one of 10 semifinalists for the 2015 Biletnikoff Award, which is given annually to the nation’s most outstanding receiver.

He’s hoping to become the first USC player to win the award since Marqise Lee in 2012. Lee is the only USC player who has won the award.

Smith-Schuster is one of two receivers from the Pac-12 Conference to be recognized with this honor, though he is the only one to have already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. He currently leads all Pac-12 wideouts with 1,160 receiving yards on 63 receptions, to go along with 10 touchdowns through 10 games this season.

In his freshman season last year, the 6-foot-2, 215 pound wideout caught 54 passes for 724 yards and five touchdowns, which resulted in him being named to the 2014 Pac-12-second team and the Sporting News Freshman All-American team.

Earlier this season, the Long Beach Poly alumnus suffered a broken hand injury against Cal, which forced him to undergo surgery on the Monday before the team’s game against Arizona. Rather than allowing the injury to sideline him, Smith-Schuster not only played, but caught eight passes for 138 yards and a touchdown. It marked the sixth time in which he has eclipsed the century mark in receiving yards this season.

“He is superman,” interim head coach Clay Helton said during that week.

Washington State junior Gabe Marks is the other semifinalist from the Pac-12, and he’s currently second in the conference with 957 receiving yards on the year. Marks, however, leads the Pac-12 with 81 receptions and 13 touchdowns.

Other notable semifinalists include Laquon Treadwell from Ole Miss, TCU’s Josh Doctson and Notre Dame’s Will Fuller.

The three finalists will be announced on Nov. 24, and the winner will be announced on Dec. 10 on ESPN’s The Home Depot College Awards show, which will take place at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

Smith-Schuster hopes to improve his case for winning the award when the Trojans head to Eugene, Oregon, to take on the Ducks this Saturday.