Juju Smith took his first official visit last month and is excited about taking his second this weekend.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound California safety/receiver from Long Beach Poly took an official to Ohio State a few weeks ago and will be in South Bend for Notre Dame’s primetime matchup with USC this weekend.
“I’m excited about just going up there, visiting and being a part of that tradition and being in that environment out there and everything,” Smith said.
“I’m looking to see all they have to offer, especially for me.”
Smith, who will make the trip with his parents, knew enough about Notre Dame from afar to make it the first official visit he scheduled, something he said was an indication of his sincere interest in the Irish.
“I knew it was a great school,” said Smith. “Last year, they had a great team and this year too, they’re not so bad. Notre Dame has a strong church life, which I’m really strong in and it’s another thing that caught my eye. I’m definitely looking forward to that.”
Smith will be one of several California prospects coming in this weekend and he’ll be on campus with a pair, Tyler Luatua and Damien Mama, who he’s close with.
“It’s pretty fun just to know people and meeting new people too is also fun,” he said. “These may be the guys I’m playing with for the next four years, you never know.”
The Irish’s opponent makes the trip even more exciting.
“It’s a big impact for me,” Smith said of the Irish playing against the Trojans. “Growing up as a kid, USC was always my dream school and it’s my parents’ school as well, so I want to go out there and see if Notre Dame can prove that they’re a better team. We’ll see.”
Smith enjoyed his visit to Columbus last month.
“It was awesome,” he said. “Everything from the facilities to the coaches to the players and the people. It was great.”
He doesn’t plan to announce a decision anytime soon and still has official visits to Oregon, Alabama and Michigan scheduled in the coming weeks.
Smith hasn’t eliminated schools like USC or UCLA and admits leaving home could be tough, but his itinerary makes it clear it’s something he’s strongly considering.
“It’s going to be really hard,” he said. “Going away is not a problem, but I’m really strong in family, so that’s one of the reasons I would stay back or just going away and being independent to be on my own.”
Smith doesn’t expect to see many differences in the facilities at each school or the pitches from recruiters.
“When it comes down to it, whatever school offers me the best and whatever school I feel most comfortable with, that’ll be the school for me,” he said.
Smith feels fortunate to have a strong support system to work through the decision with.
“It’s great to have support, to have people behind you, supporting you 100 percent. There are a lot of kids out there who don’t have that support. To have these people come and support me every game and be a part of Team Juju is great.”