Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has been named the 2017 recipient of the Polynesian Pro Football Player of the Year Award presented by Hawaiian Airlines.
The Polynesian Pro Football Player of the Year Award recognizes the most outstanding professional football player of Polynesian ancestry. Arizona Cardinals Offensive Guard Mike Iupati was selected as the inaugural recipient in 2015 and Tennessee Titans Quarterback Marcus Mariota was selected as the recipient in 2016.
The 6-foot 2-inch, 215-pound, Smith-Schuster was born in Long Beach, California and is of Samoan ancestry. He is in his rookie season out of the University of Southern California.
This year, Smith-Schuster helped lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 13-3 regular season record. He finished the season with 58 catches for 917 yards and seven touchdowns, and added 240 yards and a touchdown on nine kick returns. He became the youngest player in NFL history to amass 1,000 all-purpose yards in a season and set a Steelers franchise record for most receiving yards by a rookie. JuJu earned AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors in Week 8 and AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors in Week 17.
“On behalf of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Board of Directors, we congratulate JuJu on a historic season,” said Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Chairman Jesse Sapolu. “He truly represents the very best of our Polynesian culture.”
Smith-Schuster was honored at a celebration dinner on Jan. 19 and was also recognized at the Polynesian Bowl on Jan. 20 oh O‘ahu, where he served as an ambassador for this year’s game.
The Polynesian Pro Football Player of the Year Award was voted on by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame selection committee composed of coaches Dick Tomey (chairman), Ron McBride and Dick Vermeil, past NFLPA president and inaugural inductee Kevin Mawae, former NFL player and class of 2015 inductee Ray Schoenke, ESPN sportscaster Neil Everett, NFL Network writer and commentator Steve Wyche, and Honolulu sportscaster Robert Kekaula.