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Ohio State Quarterback C.J. Stroud Excited For California Homecoming In Rose Bowl

"I never would have thought I would come back home and play, which is an awesome feeling."

A native of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud grew up 45 minutes to an hour’s drive down the 210 Freeway from the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. 

And while he would much rather be in Dallas or Miami for the College Football Playoff semifinals this week, Stroud is excited to return home and play in front of friends and family on Saturday afternoon.

“It’s a blessing from God to come back home and be able to go out there and have fun,” Stroud said during his media availability on Wednesday. “If you would have asked when I first committed to Ohio State, ‘Would I ever play in California,’ I probably would have said, ‘No.’ 

"I honestly thought we were going to make the playoff, but at the end of the day, I never would have thought I would come back home and play, which is an awesome feeling. I definitely think that it’s a blessing to have my people who couldn’t come out to Ohio come out to see me play, to play back home in front of some fans out here that never got to come see an Ohio State game and in front of my family.”

Although the Buckeyes fell short of their goals of winning the Big Ten and reaching the playoff, Stroud had one of the best individual seasons in school history. He threw for 3,862 yards and 38 touchdowns; was named the Big Ten’s offensive player, quarterback and freshman of the year, something no other player has done; and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, Davey O’Brien Award and Manning Award.

However, Stroud acknowledged he didn’t accomplish all he set out to do this season – his first as a starter – mostly because they weren’t able to beat Michigan last month.

“Of course, I wanted to be a Heisman finalists,” Stroud said. “I wanted to win the Big Ten championship, which we didn’t do, but that was a big goal of mine. I wanted to win the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, just keep that going in Ohio State quarterback history. The (Chicago Tribune) Silver Football award was something I wanted to win, as well.

“There’s a couple other things that I didn’t get, but those are some of the things that I was thinking about, but I think when it comes to that, you just have to win. It’s not really about what accolades you want as an individual. If you win, you can probably get those things.”

All that said, Saturday’s game against Utah will have little to no impact on Ohio State’s conference and national title aspirations for next season, but Stroud is eager to put the loss to Michigan behind him and use it as a springboard for things to come.

“I think if we go out here and play well, that will be a big-time win,” Stroud said. “Of course, that’ll jumpstart you into next year. You don’t want to go into next year with two bad tastes in your mouth.”


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