Texans' Cade Stover Always Knew QB C.J. Stroud Was 'Special'

C.J. Stroud's success during his rookie season with the Houston Texans may have come as a surprise. However, Cade Stover always knew his former college teammate would be "special."
Jan 13, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) before a 2024 AFC wild
Jan 13, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) before a 2024 AFC wild / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON — C.J. Stroud entered the 2023 NFL Draft as the second-ranked quarterback but faced several questions about his ability to thrive on an NFL level. Four games into his career with the Houston Texans, the then-rookie quarterback proved to be in for a phenomenal season. 

Stroud led the Texans to their first winning season since 2019 with a 10-7 record, which also ended the team's four-year postseason drought. On his way to winning Offensive Rookie of the Year, Stroud tallied 4,557 total passing yards, including the postseason, which is the second-most in NFL history by a rookie quarterback — trailing only Andrew Luck (4,662) in 2012. 

Stroud's success left everyone astonished. However, when it came to his former Ohio State teammate, Cade Stover, the 23-year-old tight end prospect said he wasn't surprised by his success. He knew the former Buckeye was going to be special from the moment they began playing together at Ohio Stadium.

“To be honest with you, it wasn't a surprise to me or anybody in that Ohio State facility," Stover said. "We knew that dude was special. When he got the chance, got put with the right people and the right coaching staff, the dude is unbelievable.”

Stroud established himself as one of the nation's best quarterbacks during his junior year at Ohio State. He led the Buckeyes to an 11-2 record. Although he played alongside prospects Chris Olave and Marvin Harrison Jr., Stover became one of Stroud's top targets in the passing game.

Stover recorded 36 balls for a then-career-best 406 yards and five touchdowns. Their season came to a heartbreaking end during Ohio State's 42-41 defeat to Georgia. Stover and Stroud became one of the top quarterback-tight-end tandems in the nation. However, the two respective parties developed a more robust bond off the field.

After meeting with the Texans at the NFL Combine, Stover said on Feb. 27 that it "would mean so much" to reunite with his former teammate. Three months to the date, the Texans made Stover a fourth-round pick (No. 123 overall) of the 2024 NFL Draft.

"It's just such an honor to play with C.J. again — they've got something really special going on down there in Houston," Stover said during his post-draft media availability on Saturday. "We've stayed in touch pretty well. He is an awesome human and an even better teammate."

Stick with TexansGameday for more coverage of the Houston Texans throughout the offseason. Follow Coty M. Davis on Twitter at @CotyDavis_24. Make sure to subscribe to our daily podcast Locked On Texans today! Click here to watch. Click here to listen.

Coty M. Davis