A team, be it in football or in the board room, is not going to win without leadership, no matter how talented the parts may be.
Each year going into the season we look at the assembled team and try and figure out where the leadership is going to come from.
Last season the Buckeyes knew that they had a first year starting quarterback in either C.J. Stroud or Kyle McCord and while both players may have been leaders at previous stops, it is a process to become the leader of a new team.
Now going into year two under Stroud, this is really his team, and he has taken to his leadership role much like he took to Ryan Day’s offense last year and is owning the role.
“I think when you’re young and you go into a season and you haven’t played, you’re just trying to figure out a way to complete that first pass, get that first win, and you’re so focused on your job and maybe the offense,” Day said of Stroud’s leadership in 2021.
“This off-season he’s done a great job of taking a bunch of guys on defense over to his house,” Day continued. “He’s cooked for them. He’s really approached it like a coach, and that’s what leaders do, and that’s what really good quarterbacks do.”
Stroud is enjoying the additional responsibilities as a leader as he looks to take the Buckeyes further this year than they got last year in an 11-2 campaign and a Rose Bowl win.
“If you asked me what a quarterback is, I definitely think I would say a leader,” Stroud said. “And I think on and off the field. I think off the field, it’s probably more important. Leadership is all about trust. If I trust my guys, I know they’ll do anything for me, and I can do anything for them.”
Through the year you could see Stroud getting more comfortable with his receivers and his linemen and offensive players, but it so much more than that. Leadership is not only about what you do on the field and so much of that happens in the months where players are not spending most of their lives at the WHAC.
“I do invite a lot of my teammates over, either side of the ball, even if you’re a specialist, I don’t care, linemen. Either I’ll cook something, or I’ll order something, and we just eat, have a good time, talk, played a game, do whatever. Just have fun to be boys,” Stroud added.
The team will start to spend more time around each other with the hotel check-in for fall practice set to come soon and there may not be as much time for those nights of meals and cards or video games as everything will be focused around getting ready for the next game and academic work.
The work over the summer will pay dividends however when these players are thrust back into the spotlight with the pressure of Buckeye Nation focused directly on them.
“I definitely think that’s important, just to build that trust off the field so on the field, we just rock for each other,” Stroud said.
Let the rocking start on September 3rd when the Buckeyes host Notre Dame in the season opener.