It’s NFL Combine week, which is randomly one of my favorite events of the year. C.J. Stroud’s press conference was Friday, and there were definitely some quotes from him that stood out amongst others. Here are my thoughts on some of them.
- “I think I’ve been the best player in college football two years in a row.”
I must say, this is a bold statement coming from a guy who didn’t win the Heisman either year he was a finalist. However, I certainly respect the confidence and I’m sure NFL GM’s will appreciate it as well.
Honestly, he’s not wrong. The only reason he didn’t win the 2021 Heisman was because of the Michigan game. The same could also be said for this year, however it still would’ve been tough to dethrone Caleb Williams after the season he had. Stroud and Bryce Young had nearly identical stats in 2021, both consistently averaging 300+ passing yards per game with multiple touchdowns.
Young and Alabama had one loss as well, to Texas A&M about halfway through the season. However, since Stroud’s came as the last game of the regular season against TTUN, Heisman voters were probably more focused on that game. Let’s not forget that he still threw for 394 yards and zero interceptions in that game, though.
Either way, Stroud finished fourth in Heisman voting that season behind Young, Aidan Hutchinson and Kenny Pickett. In the eyes of (most) Buckeye fans, yes, he was the best player in the nation. Clearly though, everyone else didn’t agree.
There has been a lot of heated discussion the past two years of how good he really is, but between the Rose Bowl game against Utah and the Peach Bowl against Georgia, he showed that, yeah, he is definitely capable of being the best player in college football.
2. “I look up to Michael Vick and Deshaun Watson [playing styles].”
Okay, everyone needs to settle down. I saw this quote getting a lot of traction on Twitter, and everyone is taking it the wrong way. Stroud was strictly talking about these two quarterback’s playing styles and why they inspired him as a QUARTERBACK. Not as a person!
He discussed Vick’s athleticism and ability to stay in the pocket, and also mentioned Watson. That’s it, so don’t get it twisted.
3. “I didn’t [run] a lot in college and I feel like I should have and that’s something I do regret.”
It was a valid question to ask about his running, or lack thereof. It was interesting to hear him say how he wished he had run more, because I feel like he had always maintained the fact that he is not a dual-threat QB, and was confident in his arm and only had to run when absolutely necessary.
But, we did get glimpses of his ability to take off and run for a first down a lot more this season than last season. It was honestly frustrating because he showed that he is extremely capable of running the ball! In the Northwestern and Georgia games especially, he showed that this is a weapon he has which he keeps concealed 95% of the time. It seemed like as the season went on, he got more comfortable running, but it was a shame that he didn’t do it as much his entire career.
Yet, I think between the game film and the Combine and Ohio State’s Pro Day, he will get plenty of opportunities to show NFL GMs and coaches his athleticism and ability to move. The question isn’t “can he run,” it’s more of “why didn’t he.”
4. “I don’t wanna go there [to the Bears]. That’s [Justin Fields’] team.”
Love this. Stroud said him and Fields are “brothers for life.” Enough said!
5. “I was honestly going to come back to school.”
At the end of the day, pretty much everyone knew Stroud was going to the league. However, he did take his sweet time making his decision, so there was a bit of speculation that he would come back to school. It was really interesting to hear him say that this was a legitimate possibility for him.
He mentioned how he obviously didn’t meet his two goals of beating Michigan or winning a national championship, nor did he win a Heisman. However, he said he trusted in God’s plan and that those achievements weren’t a part of it. I don’t think enough people realize how tough of a decision that would be. He left his collegiate career not accomplishing what he set out to do, and is going to have to live with that. But, the opportunity of being a top-10 pick in the NFL Draft is once in a lifetime, and he really can’t pass that up.
So, overall, some interesting insight into the mind of Stroud. Not anything groundbreaking, but some clarity on some topics that Buckeye nation has been curious about. We wish nothing but the best for Stroud as he prepares for the draft! May the best team win, whoever drafts him.