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Column: C.J. Stroud deserves more accolades

Trophies on trophies. Good thing he’s got a long NFL career ahead of him. 

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Ohio State v Georgia Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Former Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith’s list of achievements is absurd, especially the list of things he won in 2006 alone:

  • Heisman Trophy
  • Davey O’Brien Award
  • AP College Football Player of the Year
  • National Championship runner-up

The list goes on. Of note, many of these awards are national recognitions rather than conference awards. Smith would later be drafted in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft and have a short-lived NFL career.

No offense to Smith (seriously), but if we were to put together an Ohio State All-Star roster from the last 20 years, he would not top the depth chart at QB.

One person who is competing for that top spot is C.J. Stroud. Even without the benefit of hindsight, it’s clear that Stroud has all the makings of a quarterback whose talents will have longevity and whose accomplishments will remain salient in our minds.

Consider Stroud’s performance against Georgia Saturday: 23-for-34 passing for 348 yards, four touchdowns and no picks. He was near-perfect against one of the nation’s most formidable defenses and the defending national champs. Against the Bulldogs, he did everything he could possibly have done, including leading two sub-minute drives at the end of each half to put the Buckeyes in positions to score. (For the record, this is not a knock on anyone else on the team who also played out of their minds Saturday.)

Unfortunately for Stroud, his two seasons at Ohio State have come with a theme of always being second place — and that’s not fair. Perhaps I’m being a biased Ohio State fan here (always), but Stroud’s performance over the last two seasons has been among the most impressive in that time. If there were a Heisman awarded for a two-season stretch, Stroud would have won it.

But Heismans don’t work that way and neither do national championships.

Stroud’s list of achievements as a starting quarterback look very similar to Justin Fields, minus two pairs of gold pants and a win in the College Football Playoff semi-final. Some of those accolades include:

  • Two-time first team All-Big Ten
  • Two-time Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year
  • Two-time Brees-Griese Quarterback of the Year
  • Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year
  • Second team All-American

Of note, most of Stroud’s highest honors were won at the Big Ten level, as we can tell by all the hyphenated award names. These accolades should be enough to indicate that Stroud was a great quarterback in his time at Ohio State, but it still stings that he was invited to New York twice for the Heisman Trophy ceremony only to leave empty handed. Also that he had two realistic shots at national titles only to come up empty.

It’s a bummer too because Stroud entered and spent much of the 2022 season as the favorite for the Heisman, only to be usurped by Caleb Williams at the 11th hour. And in rivalry matchups, he had two games against Michigan where the Buckeyes entered The Game as the favorites only to lose both.

He does have two impressive postseason performances under his belt with the 2022 Rose Bowl and, as we said, the 2022 Peach Bowl. In fact, Stroud’s performance Saturday likely improved his NFL Draft stock and placed him in a competitive position for the No. 1-overall pick by the Houston Texans. With a probable coaching change inbound, it’s unclear if the Texans might opt for an improviser like Bryce Young, who is generously listed at just 6 feet tall, or if a traditional passer a la Stroud would be the way to go. Regardless, it’s hard to imagine Stroud falling way back in the draft.

Heck, it might even be better for Stroud to land at a more complete team like the Detroit Lions or Seattle Seahawks, who have some momentum but are missing a franchise quarterback. As we’ve seen with top quarterback prospects in the past, it might even be helpful to sit for a season behind a veteran while learning the ropes of the NFL.

Still, as a fan of Stroud the player and the person, it’s hard not to root for him and want him to get some of the honors he deserves. I’m not here saying Stroud should get a participation award for consistently finishing as the next man up, but my hope is at least that he gets his payday and can have an impressive NFL career and maybe a couple Super Bowls to boot.