COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Last yr at the moment, C.J. Stroud was an unknown, untested redshirt freshman who nonetheless hadn’t thrown a cross in a school soccer sport.
Stroud was named the beginning quarterback late within the 2021 preseason, having wrested the job from one other heralded freshman. The gig introduced with it outsized expectations: win each sport and be even higher than the final man, Justin Fields, who was now within the NFL.
This yr, as he prepares to guide the No. 2 Buckeyes towards No. 5 Notre Dame within the season opener on Saturday, Coleridge Bernard Stroud IV is a boss.
A Heisman Trophy finalist final season, Stroud is already getting wealthy from NIL cash, and he’s projected to be a first-round NFL draft choose in 2023.
Quite a whirlwind for the 20-year-old from Rancho Cucamonga, California.
“If I blink my eyes, (it’s) like I was just in high school, like getting ready,” he stated not too long ago
But 2021 was removed from a dream season for Ohio State. One day in late November was really a nightmare: the Buckeyes did the unthinkable and misplaced to the detested Jim Harbaugh and Michigan.
As a lot as Stroud distinguished himself individually final yr — he accomplished 71.9% of his passes, threw for 44 touchdowns and broke 17 college information — the Buckeyes misplaced two of their greatest video games. There was loads of blame to go round, however little of it was on the younger quarterback.
Defensive lapses led to a Week 2 loss to Oregon. Similar points arose once more when the Buckeyes misplaced to Michigan for the primary time since 2011. The defeat within the rivalry sport, as humiliating because it was on its face, additionally dashed Ohio State’s hopes of one other Big Ten title and College Football Playoff look.
Stroud, understanding now all of the issues he didn’t know a yr in the past as a first-time starter, can’t wait to get one other shot at it. He’s determined to win a championship at Ohio State in what doubtless will probably be his final season.
“Honestly, I don’t think I really did a lot,” Stroud stated of the 2021 season. “I feel like I barely touched my potential. I feel like I can do a lot more.”
Stroud’s teammates are impressed by how he has grown into the position, a lot in order that they voted him a captain. They see a extra assured, vocal chief keen to get in anyone’s face in the event that they deserve it.
“He’s speaking up. He’s more mature. He wants to win,” stated Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State’s No. 1 receiver. “You know, we’re all fired up. He’s a competitor, and no one wants to win more than him, and he wants to bring that to the whole team and spread it out.”
Said offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson: “He’s been probably more outspoken than any player in the last couple of years, just encouraging or also demanding that he expects someone to do better. It’s been great to see.”
Ohio State coach Ryan Day talks about Stroud today a lot the identical means he did Fields after the Georgia switch got here to Columbus and starred for the Buckeyes in 2019.
“I think that C.J. has really grown in terms of his leadership this year, and just has a much more, you know, wide perspective on everything that’s going on, not just his job,” Day stated. “He sees it almost as a coach right now. I know his No. 1 thing is he wants to win, and everything else is secondary. And he’s practiced that way.”
Questions stay concerning the Ohio State protection, which has been overhauled by new coordinator Jim Knowles. But the offense is once more stocked with NFL prospects.
Smith-Njigba, working again TreVeyon Henderson and left sort out Paris Johnson are first-team AP Preseason All-Americans. Johnson is one in every of three returning starters on the offensive line.
Stroud was a second-team AP preseason choice, edged out by Alabama’s Bryce Young. Both have been Heisman finalists final season.
“I just approach it like I’ve been doing since I got here,” Stroud stated. “I’ve always felt by God’s grace like I was a natural born leader, that he’s kind of blessed me with that ability. So I feel like I can relate to a lot of people in different situations. I just keep being myself, keep being unapologetically me and just understand my role.”
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