C.J. Stroud is going to be QB1 for The Ohio State Buckeyes this year. That’s my very strong opinion.
Preseason camp is a fun time to discuss various spots on the depth chart and debate other topics. However, this 2021 quarterback “battle” is going to find itself more clear-cut than people realize.
Say it’s a three-person battle all you want… but (barring injuries) Jack Miller III isn’t getting the gig. He’s obviously a fantastic player and legit option for most schools in the country. But, let's be honest...
Miller was the least-efficient QB during the spring game. He was positioned No. 334 overall in his recruiting class and, while those rankings don't mean everything, they tend to mean something. Meanwhile, Stroud and true freshman Kyle McCord were both five-star products in/around the Top 50. Ohio State is just a different circumstance of talent.
We all know about Quinn Ewers; high school phenom, enrolling early, BRIGHT FUTURE. But he is just now arriving to campus and needs some time to learn/grow. You don’t digest a college playbook and build rapport with teammates overnight.
That leaves Stroud and McCord (no offense to J.P. Andrade and Jagger LaRoe… party on fellas). Either is an outstanding option who could likely do amazing things this fall. But think about it…
Stroud has reportedly been taking the initial first-team reps at practice. Check.
When Justin Fields got banged up last year, against both Northwestern and Clemson, it was Stroud (not Miller) who took the field. Check.
The 6-foot-3, 218-pounder is currently one of the top betting choices to win the Heisman Trophy. Check.
Per Vegas Insider:
Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma): +800
D.J. Uiagalelei (Clemson): +1100
Bryce Young (Alabama): +1100
J.T. Daniels (Georgia): +1200
C.J. Stroud (Ohio State): +1600
Sam Howell (North Carolina): +1600
D’Eriq King (Miami): +2000
I’ve seen Stroud offered as low as 9/1. No matter how you slice it, the folks in Sin City believe he’ll be taking the snaps in Columbus.
Remember, the Rancho Cucamonga (that’s fun to say) native won MVP honors at the Elite 11 Finals… an event that also featured Bryce Young. Check.
Stroud’s game easily reminds me of recent Ohio State quarterbacks that starred behind center; Justin Fields, J.T. Barrett, Braxton Miller, Terrelle Pryor and Troy Smith. These were all dynamic threats with both their arms and legs. So is Stroud, more than anyone else on the current roster. Check.
Yes, bigger and more traditional pocket passers like Dwayne Haskins or Cardale Jones were successful in their own right. But when you assess the history of QB’s this century, Stroud seems to “fit the bill” a tad more… whether it be from the Jim Tressel, Urban Meyer or Ryan Day era.
Ohio State traditionally uses one primary quarterback. There are outlying years (see Barrett/Jones in 2015 and Smith/Justin Zwick in 2004), but history shows that one youngster will emerge as “the guy.”
I think you’ll enjoy some McCord or Miller against Tulsa, Akron and other teams the Buckeyes trounce. You’ll obviously enjoy Quinn Ewers soon enough. Who knows how this entire thing plays out over the next few years. Someone will undoubtedly transfer. But, to begin this 2021 season, I’d be shocked if Stroud wasn’t at the reins.
With that in mind, consider this… Ohio State has the best wide receivers in the country and a great overall system in place. Whoever gets the initial nod will have a supporting cast to shine. So, if (or when) that person is Stroud come early September, chances are that he doesn’t relinquish the job. Checkmate.
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