Every day until fall camp begins for Ohio State, we will profile a different Buckeye football player. Today that player is redshirt freshman quarterback CJ Stroud. Yesterday it was offensive lineman Luke Wypler. You can find all of the daily Scoop Profiles right here.
No. 7 | Quarterback | 6-3 215 | Redshirt Freshman | Rancho Cucamonga High School | Rancho Cucamonga, California
How’d He Get Here
CJ Stroud wasn’t exactly a late bloomer as a high school quarterback, but he didn’t really blow up nationally until after his junior season. Early on he held offers from Yale, Boise State, Kansas State, Washington State, and the like. The summer between his junior and senior years at Rancho Cucamonga High School he excelled on the camp circuit, even winning MVP honors at the annual Elite 11 quarterback competition. Stroud played with a number of future Buckeyes out at the Elite 11 and The Opening, which put Ohio State in a very good position once they offered him in October of 2019. A few weeks later, Michigan jumped into the picture with an offer. Stroud ended up taking four official visits in four successive weeks, beginning with Georgia, then to Oregon, then Michigan, and finally Ohio State. He committed to the Buckeyes on the first day of the early signing period that December. Stroud was ranked the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the 2020 recruiting class and the No. 42 player overall.
An early enrollee, CJ Stroud got to Ohio State in January of 2020 and spent his first three months on campus learning from Buckeye head coach Ryan Day, quarterback coach Corey Dennis, and quarterback Justin Fields. Then March hit and sports were shut down after just a couple of spring practices. Stroud played in three games last year, but never threw a pass. He did carry the ball once and ended up taking it 48 yards to the house against Michigan State. This spring, Stroud was one of three quarterbacks competing for the open starting job. Like Stroud, fellow quarterbacks Jack Miller and Kyle McCord have yet to throw a pass in a collegiate game. That competition will continue during fall camp.
What to Like
Every time CJ Stroud was seen by reporters on the field in practice this past spring, he was repping first, followed by Jack Miller and Kyle McCord. All three got plenty of reps, but the fact that Stroud was always first tells you how the coaches feel about him. It’s unfortunate last season that he wasn’t able to throw any passes during a game, but he has certainly tried to make up for that in the offseason. While Stroud was listed as a pro-style quarterback, he came to Ohio State telling people that he was more mobile than he was getting credit for. He then proved that claim against Michigan State when he outraced the Spartan defense for a 48-yard score on a quarterback keeper. Stroud can also throw the ball just fine and there aren’t really any concerns about throws he can’t make. The offense is open in terms of play calls, but now it’s about mastering everything. It has been said by past quarterbacks that you need a year in Ryan Day’s offense to have it down. Right now, Stroud is a year and a half in, so he should be fine.
What’s the Ceiling This Year?
Even though the eventual starting quarterback for the Buckeyes this year has very little experience, there is enough history of Ryan Day’s offense to expect the starting quarterback to produce very good numbers. In fact, if CJ Stroud was to reach his ceiling as a second-year player this year, he could be every bit the Heisman candidate that Justin Fields was in his second year on a college campus. The Buckeyes have a tremendous offensive line, a dynamic group of receivers, and a deep stable of running backs. This is basically the dream scenario for a new starting quarterback. Every Ohio State starting quarterback since Ryan Day arrived in Columbus has been a First-Team All-Big Ten selection, and nothing less is expected from Stroud should he win the job this year.
If CJ Stroud does win the job and continues to reach his lofty ceiling, it won’t be a surprise to see him produce similar numbers to Justin Fields. Then, like Fields, leave after his third year of college ball. A 2021 season of 3,500 yards passing and 35 touchdowns is almost absurdly expected, but that’s about “average” for a starting quarterback under Day. Then the numbers go up even more as he gains experience. If Stroud wins the job, he will have earned it. And it follows that whoever wins this job is going to be able to do everything the offense requires. And then do it even better the following year. If CJ Stroud reaches his ceiling in the coming years, then he will be the next in line as a first-round NFL Draft pick, joining the Buckeyes’ last two starting quarterbacks with that achievement. At that point, the mentions of “QBU” will turn into more than just whispers.