NEW YORK- The idea of Ohio State’s starting quarterback being the best overall player in the Big Ten and among the best in the country is certainly nothing new. It’s a story we’ve seen more than Godzilla, Dracula and Batman combined. C.J. Stroud is much more than all that though.
He’s a hero like Batman to the Buckeye faithful and a terror like Dracula and Godzilla to Ohio State’s opponents.
That’s because he wasn’t just a Heisman finalist; he’s still among the favorites to be the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. He didn’t get the Heisman, but at least he was one of the four players invited to the Downtown Athletic Club.
While we have seen a lot of OSU QBs be dominant, at the college level, in recent years, they haven’t been major blue chip NFL prospects. C.J. Stroud is very different.
Name an NFL mock draft, and you’ll see him near or at the top.
Find any Heisman trophy favorites post online, and you’ll see his odds are as favorable as anybody else (not named Hendon Hooker anyway).
“From a standpoint of quarterback play, I’m not sure there’s anybody playing better than C.J. Stroud right now in the country,” said Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said ahead of his side’s November matchup against the Buckeyes.
“I haven’t seen every game like you all probably have; just going through and perusing things, I have obviously focused on our opponent and how we go about our routine, but he’s been in a lot of crossover tape. He’s just been so efficient and so explosive.”
OSU came in as 38-point favorites, but they struggled massively in the first half, as Stroud and company couldn’t adjust to the strong winds and heavy rains in Evanston.
Ohio State had three three-and-outs, then they got stuffed on 4th on 1, from their own 40 on the fourth possession. Then they punted on their next two possessions. OSU quickly found themselves down, 7-0, late in the first half.
However, C.J. Stroud is C.J. Stroud, and it wasn’t long until he led the Buckeyes across the field and tied it, just before halftime.
Northwestern DB AJ Hampton discussed what makes the Buckeyes signal caller so elite.
“If you just turn on the film, [it’s not just] the throws he’s making week in and week out,” he said.
“[It’s] the way he’s keeping his team composed and is keeping the team together. The biggest thing is just their emotion on the field and the way they’re able to have fun.
“Him being a leader, I think that’s one of the biggest things he does very well. The film is there.
“They have great games. The connection he has with his wide receivers is also another very important thing that I’ve noticed.”
Added NU DL Duke Olges;
“He’s a very consistent player. He makes hard throws look easy. When you’re watching him, it’s almost like watching an NFL tape. He’s a very talented player. He’s a guy that just goes out there and executes. His consistency and his talent just takes him and separates him from everybody else.”
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Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Sports Bank. He’s also the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”