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LB In NFL: Long Beach Poly Alum Jurrell Casey Named To Pro Bowl; JuJu Smith-Schuster Snubbed

The NFL’s announcement of this year’s Pro Bowl team was an historic affair for Long Beach Poly alum Jurrell Casey. The Titans’ defensive tackle was named to his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl, becoming the first Titans player in history to make four Pro Bowls. Casey made history in Long Beach as well, becoming just the third Long Beach product in history to receive the honor four times (no player has made five Pro Bowls).

“It’s a great feeling, work hard to play harder,” he posted on Instagram. “Nothing better than getting appreciation and love from fans and colleagues. I am humbled and continually motivated!”

The only other Long Beach products to achieve that feat are Poly’s Gene Washington and Millikan’s Gary Garrison. Washington and Casey are now the only two Long Beach products to go to four consecutive Pro Bowls.

It’s been another top-notch season for Casey, who has 68 tackles, seven sacks, and 47 quarterback pressures so far this season, with two weeks left. Casey is a five-time captain who is once again Tennessee’s Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, an award given to recognize leadership and community service. His football camp has become a mainstay in Long Beach during the offseason. He’s sixth in Titans history with 46 career sacks.

The surprise of the evening was that Poly alum JuJu Smith-Schuster was a snub, not being selected as one of the top four receivers in the AFC despite having the most catches and the third-most yards of any receiver. It’s a particularly surprising result when compared to Keenan Allen of the Chargers, who made the cut. Smith-Schuster had seven more catches for 200 more yards and the same number of touchdowns as Allen.

Smith-Schuster was named an alternate, so if Allen, DeAndre Hopkins (Texans), or Tyreke Hill (Chiefs) end up unable to play in the Pro Bowl due to either injury or their teams making the Super Bowl, Smith-Schuster would be in the running to replace them.

Wilson alum Joel Bitonio, an offensive lineman for the Browns, was also named a Pro Bowl alternate, meaning he would go if one of the selected linemen is injured or participating in the Super Bowl. Poly alums Jayon Brown, DeSean Jackson, and Jamize Olawale were all on the ballot for Pro Bowl voting but didn’t make the alternate list.

Brown is having a particularly strong sophomore campaign and was expected to at least garner alternate status, as he’s the NFL’s leading sack artist at the inside linebacker position, and No. 8 in tackles. To put Brown’s quietly stellar season into focus, he’s currently at 79 tackles with two weeks left in the season–Poly great Willie McGinest only notched more than 80 tackles once in his illustrious NFL career.

 

Mike Guardabascio
Mike Guardabascio
Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for a decade, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards and is the author of the books "Football in Long Beach" and "Basketball in Long Beach."
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