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Column: Does C.J. Stroud have to return for Ohio State to meet expectations next season?

Or does a new quarterback need to be ushered in?

NCAA Football: Peach Bowl-Ohio State at Georgia John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been over two weeks since the Buckeyes’ season ended, and C.J. Stroud has yet to declare for the NFL Draft. Meanwhile, many of his teammates have actually made the decision to return for another year.

Could Stroud actually come back? If so, what impact would that have on next year’s team?

As each day passes, it seems more and more likely that Stroud may not go pro this year. Shocking, since he is a projected top-five pick. Yet, he may not be happy with the legacy he has left at Ohio State and has unfinished business. It seems to be that way for many of his teammates, such as Tommy Eichenberg and Miyan Williams.

So, what if Stroud comes back?

Statistically, he is a great quarterback. In terms of major wins though, he isn’t doing too hot on the biggest stage. He put up big numbers game after game. He made his receivers look amazing (obviously, they’re amazing already). Yet, he hasn’t beat Michigan and he hasn’t won a College Football Playoff game. Does that mean it’s time for a change at quarterback?

Syndication: Online Athens Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK

Personally, I want Stroud to come back. I know that it is a very divisive topic, but you can’t deny that he is one of the best QBs in the nation. The man is a two-time Heisman finalist. I’m aware, finalist, not winner. But, if the game against Georgia showed me anything, it’s that Stroud clearly has the potential to be the winner, should he come back for another year.

If you asked me after the Michigan game, I would have said thank you for everything C.J., but I think it’s time we go our separate ways, good luck with your future. But he absolutely balled out against Georgia. He ran a lot. He had zero turnovers. He looked like a real leader out there, and that is what this 2023 team will need.

There will be some new guys on the offensive line, and hopefully some new guys in the secondary, but besides that, it will be a relatively veteran team. The offense that played together this year will be largely the same offense next year if Stroud stays. Having that experience with each other could be valuable next season.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Plus, with some new faces on the O-Line, it would be nice not to have a brand-new QB behind them. I’m sure whoever the new starters are will be great, but there will have to be an adjustment period. With Stroud under center (a new center, might I add), I’m sure it would put the linemen at ease knowing they have a veteran quarterback behind them.

Now, I’m not saying if Kyle McCord or Devin Brown became the starting QB that the team would be unsuccessful. It is simply unknown. I’m pretty confident in saying that we would be a pretty dang good team, but I don’t know if we could beat Michigan or what the postseason would look like.

I just like the idea of one last hurrah with a bunch of seniors and a veteran at QB. Eichenberg, Williams, Xavier Johnson and Cade Stover all came back to leave a legacy they are proud of. Stroud has been their guy for the past two years, and it’s starting to look like he might be it for a third. He was voted a captain, so clearly they respect him as a leader.

And I think he might just be the guy to lead them to victory next season, too.

Poll

Do you want Stroud to stay or do you want to see a new QB next year?

  • 74%
    One more year, C.J.!
    (106 votes)
  • 25%
    Give me Brown or McCord
    (36 votes)
142 votes total Vote Now