A few weeks ago we talked about the reigning Heisman winner Bryce Young. Today we are looking at one of the other favorites to win the Heisman this season, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud. Stroud was one of the best quarterbacks last season and earned himself an invite to New York City for the Heisman ceremony. He ultimately finished fourth but is looking to improve and win the award this season. Stroud is number 48 in our series called 99 Things where we looking into 99 of the most exciting things about this upcoming college football season.
Last season Stroud was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the entire country. He ranked top five in the country in adjusted QB rating, passing yards, and passing touchdowns. Stroud’s adjusted QB rating was 91.6 which was first in the country. He threw for 4,435 yards (5th) and 44 touchdowns (4th) last season. Stroud also missed one game due to injury. His most impressive game came against Utah where the threw for 573 yards and six touchdowns. He also completed 80.4% of his passes against the Utes. Stroud had a monster game without first round picks Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave as they opted out of the Rose Bowl.
Stroud is already projected to be a top five pick in next year’s NFL draft due to his success during his second year at Ohio State. Stroud has excellent arm strength and precision accuracy to place the ball exactly where it needs to be for his receiver. He possesses the ability to fit the football into tight spaces where only his receiver can catch the ball. Stroud is great on the run. He continues to keep his eyes down field looking for an open target when his initial reads are not available. He is able to extend the play with his legs but he needs to learn when to tuck the ball and run it. Stroud occasionally will continue to look for a receiver instead of rushing the ball when space is available in front of him.
Olave and Wilson are off to the NFL meaning Stroud will be looking for new targets. Jaxon Smith-Njigba returns and will be one of the best receivers in the entire country. Smith-Njigba finished the season with 95 catches, 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns. Emeka Egbuka, Julian Fleming, and Marvin Harrison Jr are expected to replace Olave and Wilson. Harrison scored three touchdowns in the Rose Bowl and is the most likely candidate to be the number two receiver. All three players are former top 100 recruits and will likely be NFL players as Brian Hartline is their position coach.
The spotlight will be on Stroud when the season opens as the Buckeyes host Notre Dame in week one. Stroud can get his Heisman campaign off to a hot start with a win over the Fighting Irish. He will also have plenty of other opportunities this year as the Buckeyes face Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan State, Penn State and Michigan this season. Ohio State is the favorite to win the Big Ten and contend for a national championship once again. If the Buckeyes make the playoffs they will likely do it on the shoulders of another strong season from Stroud.