CJ Stroud

CJ Stroud Looks To Cheer On NFL Dreams Of Teammates

COLUMBUS – It is hard to believe that just a year ago quarterback C.J. Stroud was going through his Ohio State Pro Day as the nation wondered exactly where the former Ohio State quarterback was going to land.

This was still before all the talk about the S2 Cognition Test and other noise came out as the “misinformation season” of the NFL Draft was taking shape.

We all know how things turned out with Stroud going 2nd to the Texans and then going on to lead his team to a playoff win and the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.

It would have been easy for Stroud to hang tight in Houston during the offseason and just FaceTime with his former teammates, but if you know Stroud, that is not how he leads.

He has always been a lead by example type of person, and where he had the support of his teammates for his own Pro Day, he wanted to return the favor.

“So, I just appreciate my brothers for supporting me last year,” Stroud said. “I just wanted to return the favor and show them some love.”

Stroud was able to see players including Cade Stover, Tommy Eichenberg, Steele Chambers, Mike Hall, and others go through drill work while Marvin Harrison Jr. and Miyan Williams were in attendance as well.

Pro Day is always a big day on the Ohio State campus and while the draft class is not as deep as it may be in some other seasons, Stroud couldn’t have dreamt about being somewhere else.

“I just support my guys,” Stroud said. “Just a lot of great relationships I have here still.

I definitely know that this is a second home to me.”

Stroud knows what it takes to be a pro. How did his teammates fare?

“I think everybody did a good job today, so I’m proud of them,” Stroud added.

It is not known how many of Stroud’s former teammates will hear their names called and in what rounds, but everyone has the NFL dreams who plays this sport and being a first rounder was a huge dream for Stroud who now has his own place in the Ohio State record books and on the walls of the WHAC.

“I remember walking through the halls and playing here and wanting to get on the wall so bad,” Stroud said. “That was really the goal of being a first rounder, being up front. Being in the NFL Honors (section) where they put those guys, being where all the draft picks were at. Now that I’m walking through the halls and I see myself up there, it’s kind of cool.”

McCord making moves

It can be very difficult to be the guy after ‘the guy’.

Stroud had to deal with that in following up Justin Fields and after Stroud left, Kyle McCord was left with mighty big shoes to fill.

The Buckeyes came up short last season, not only in the Big Ten race, but ‘The Game’ and then things really went awry when McCord entered the transfer portal prior to the Cotton Bowl, leaving the Buckeyes in a deep hole at the position for the bowl game.

Stroud kept as close of an eye as he could on what his successor was doing and while many will still criticize where the offense was last season, Stroud saw plenty of good from McCord’s lone season as the Ohio State starting quarterback.

“I think Kyle held his own,” Stroud said. “I think Kyle definitely came in and did a good job of spreading the ball around.”

Ohio State’s offensive issues were more than just at quarterback as Ohio State had issues running the ball consistently in many games and just found ways to bog down as teams sold out to take Harrison away from the Buckeyes.

And even with all of that, the Buckeyes came oh-so-close to upending the Wolverines in the closing moments of that game.

Stroud knows how much that game means for a legacy.

“And of course, everything comes down to ‘The Game’, man,” Stroud said.

Fans are going to remember you best plays, but they are also going to remember when you were not your best. That is just how things work.

Stroud has gone on to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league and still hears about times that things don’t go right.

“Even for me, you look back and you just miss plays,” Stroud said.

A lot of people were taken by surprise when McCord opted for the portal, subsequently signing with Syracuse.

As with many of the current Buckeyes, Stroud was caught off guard with the move.

“Yeah, a little bit,” Stroud said. “I wasn’t in contact with him, and then I see what happened. (He) hit the portal, and I hit him up, and we had a couple conversations.”

And the result of those conversations?

“Everything makes sense, the way he was thinking,” Stroud said. “Sometimes you outgrow places, you know what I’m saying? I think that was his thing. He just outgrew what was going on here and wanted to go see other things.”

That means the Buckeyes will be sitting with a quarterback derby for 2024 with no incumbent at the position. There are still a lot of fans that hold some resentment for how things played out, but Stroud believes that it was just part of a bigger picture for everyone involved.

“Sometimes that’s what you need to do,” Stroud said. “That’s God’s plan for his life.”

Time heals all wounds and Stroud believes that McCord will get to a place where the good memories will shine through.

“I think he’ll look at his career here, and he’ll be very appreciative of it,” Stroud said. “I think he did a solid job, and I’m super proud of him. He’ll always be my brother.”

A preview for 2025?

Ohio State did not have a quarterback going through Pro Day so that opened an opportunity for both Devin Brown and Will Howard to throw for the Buckeyes at the annual event.

Cade Stover, Xavier Johnson, and others ran routes as the two signal callers had the chance to show off.

This is not a new thing for Ohio State and Stroud had the chance to do this before he took part in his own Pro Day.

“I had the opportunity to throw to Chris (Olave) and Garrett (Wilson),” Stroud said.

NFL scouts had a chance to watch both quarterbacks go through the paces, as well as the media.

This was the first opportunity that Ohio State media had a chance to see Will Howard do more than just ‘routes on air’ and was a welcome reintroduction to Devin Brown as well.

And for the pair of quarterbacks?

Neither wanted to mess up an opportunity for the players going through the drills and this opportunity introduced them to the stresses and pressures of an event like this.

“It’s good to kind of feel the pressure, quote unquote, of pro day,” Stroud said. “So, whenever they get their opportunity to do theirs, I think they’ll do a great job just knowing that they have experience doing it.”

And how did they do?

“I thought they did an amazing job,” Stroud said.

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