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‘What If’ Stroud stayed for one more season?

Could this season have been his best?

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

From now until preseason camp starts in August, Land-Grant Holy Land will be writing articles around a different theme every week. This week is all about asking “What If?”. You can catch up on all of the Theme Week content here and all of our ”What If?” articles here.

The greatest question that will never be answered: what if? If one thing was done differently, could another game have been won? Perhaps a national championship? What if C.J. Stroud decided to stay at Ohio State for another year instead of going pro— what impact would he have on the team and what could a third year as a starter do for his resume?

In the past two years, Stroud has already racked up numerous accomplishments and set many records. However, for the majority of those awards, he usually wasn’t the very best player. For example, he was a two-time Heisman finalist, but never won. He helped lead his team to the CFB Playoffs, but never advanced to the title game. He never beat TTUN. Some might look at all of this and declare his collegiate career a disappointment.

While I disagree with that sentiment, you can’t help but wonder if one more year would finally get him over that hump of finishing as second, third or fourth best. What could one more season do for him? Well, in his first year as a starter back in 2021, he showed what his arm could do. Then, this past season, he demonstrated that he can use his legs as well!

NCAA Football: Peach Bowl-Ohio State at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

So, if you put together an increased usage of his legs along with his phenomenal right arm, that’s a pretty darn good quarterback, and one that teams aren’t used to seeing. Additionally, being in the program for three years going on a fourth, and being a starter for two of those years, one would have to think that he would be more confident and relaxed out there than in the past.

Obviously he has a great connection with all of his receivers, especially Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka, so it would be nice to have that familiarity once again. This year would also be a good year for a veteran quarterback to be under center, as there are a few new guys on the offensive line. It is most likely going to take a few games for these new starters to find their footing, and until that happens, it would be nice to have an experienced QB.

So, it is fairly difficult to find many cons to Stroud playing one more year for the Buckeyes. One of the main impacts would have to be one of the younger quarterbacks transferring. This would probably be Kyle McCord, since he is entering his junior year, versus Devin Brown who is about to be a sophomore.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

If McCord transferred, that would leave Brown and incoming freshman Lincoln Kienholz duking out the starting role with 2024 QB Air Noland next year. Assuming Stroud would play the entirety of the season, that would leave a very young roster in that position with very little collegiate experience. Yes, Tristan Gebbia is a grad transfer who provides a leadership role, but he is going to be gone after this year!

Ultimately, would i have preferred Stroud to stay an extra year? Not necessarily. I wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to see what he could do— I’m actually quite curious how this season would shake out for him. However, I think it is time for a change at QB, especially when it comes to playing TTUN. I am confident that Stroud is going to kill it in the pros, and whoever is the next Ohio State QB is going to be ready.