CJ Stroud Profile
Playing football for the Buckeyes is something that so many native Ohioans dream about. But in quarterback CJ Stroud, the Buckeyes have an adopted son from California, whose incredible talent saw him break numerous school records in his first full season in the famous red and grey jersey.
Here, we look at CJ Stroud’s remarkable career to date, starting with his tough upbringing in California through his successes on the football field as one of the most prodigiously talented QBs of his generation. We also look at some of the records that CJ has smashed on his way to the top, showcasing just how highly rated this college quarterback really is.
A Tough Upbringing in Los Angeles
Born on October 3, 2001, in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, CJ Stroud had a particularly tough upbringing as the youngest of four children. Stroud’s father was in and out of prison when CJ was growing up, and the sole parenting responsibility fell to his mother, who CJ has maintained a good relationship with into adulthood.
He credits his mother with raising him single-handedly and has often commented on her influence in his life. CJ is also tight with his siblings - Isaiah, Asmar, and Ciara, who offered support and guidance as he negotiated life through his younger years.
Although born in Rancho Cucamonga, CJ grew up in Los Angeles, seeing firsthand violence and a range of other vices that are rife in the big city. He has admitted that his tough upbringing helped him learn the value of money and the importance of making smart choices to avoid making the mistakes of his father. In spite of his difficulties growing up, he has maintained good relations with his family.
Before his father was incarcerated, he was a pastor, and he managed to instill a faith in CJ that has endured to this day. He has often spoken of how his faith has helped him later in life, and it was something that has been with him since he was a youngster, growing up in California. Throughout his career, Stroud has spoken of the development of his relationship with God and how it has helped him maintain his positive attitude, particularly in the face of adversity.
Since the age of 12, CJ has been determined to make football the focal point of his life. He even made a list of ten schools that he wanted to attend to play football, including Ohio State and USC - two of his first choices - on his list, long before it was time for him to decide about his future.
But before he made his mark in college, he excelled in High School football, breaking records and showing potential scouts exactly what he was capable of. It’s fair to say that he graduated his senior year as one of the most talented prospects in California, something that helped to reiterate his passion for making it in pro football later in life.
Rancho Cucamonga’s Most Talented QB
Stroud moved from LA to nearby Rancho Cucamonga in time to attend High School there, where he enrolled in Rancho Cucamonga High School. His teachers were acutely aware of his athletic abilities, and it wasn’t long before he started attracting attention from colleges throughout the country. He excelled both in basketball and football, and it wasn’t until his junior year that his talent on the football field shone through.
Playing football for the Cougars enabled CJ to focus on his prodigious talent, and he was quick to stop playing basketball, even though he had grown up playing both sports with his friends.
When he started focusing on football over basketball, CJ was able to refine his talent with the ball, and he started showing potential recruits what he was capable of. As a high school senior, Stroud was the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin offensive player of the year, registering 3,878 passing yards and 47 touchdowns during an impeccable season. In 2019, he was selected as the MVP of the Elite 11, and in the same year, he was ranked 18 in USA Today Sports’ Chosen 25, two prestigious recognitions of his incredible talent.
Stroud was selected to play in the 2020 All-American Bowl the following year and was initially regarded as a 3-star college recruit. However, his performances and subsequent reputation led to a whole host of Division 1 colleges making offers to Stroud, with Ohio State being one of the forerunners. In spite of the huge number of offers Stroud ended up receiving, he regards his relationship with Coach Mike Yurcich as the reason he committed to Ohio State.
While many thought that Stroud would stay in his native California for college, he recalls visiting Ohio and being amazed at the passion of the Buckeyes fans, as well as the relationships he was able to develop with some key people involved in the recruitment process.
The Influence of Coach Yurcich
One of the reasons why Stroud was so keen to commit to Ohio State was due to the rapport he felt with Coach Yurcich. Stroud opened up about his tough upbringing and how it shaped him, and he regarded Yurcich as a ‘father figure,’ which naturally had a significant bearing on where he decided to attend college, given the absence of his biological father from his life.
With so much on the line during recruiting drives, Stroud admits that Coach Yurcich was the only one who showed an interest in his life outside of football, and through daily phone conversations, the two were able to develop a close bond before CJ had made his decision. The fact that the Buckeyes coach went the extra mile to get to know CJ and make him feel special seems to have made all the difference, as the quarterback hasn’t looked back since pulling on the famous red and grey jersey.
The sheer number of offers that Stroud received shows how lucky Ohio State is that Coach Yurcich went the extra mile, and his performances in his first full season with the Buckeyes went a long way to repaying the faith the coach showed in him.
Welcome to the Buckeyes
Given his profile, it’s remarkable to think that Stroud started his time with the Buckeyes as a redshirt, playing second fiddle to Justin Fields in 2020. In fact, in his first year at Ohio State, CJ made just one appearance, where he registered a 48-yard rushing touchdown. But when Fields departed Ohio State in favor of the 2021 NFL Draft and was subsequently picked by the Bears, Stroud was ready to make the step up.
The Buckeyes were blessed with some serious talent that could have filled Fields’ role, with freshmen Kyle McCord and Quinn Ewers, as well as redshirt freshman Jack Miller III, all more than capable of taking the jersey. In spite of the competition, coach Ryan Day opted to start Stroud in the 2021 season opener against Minnesota. He attributed Stroud’s decision-making, leadership skills, and accuracy as the reason why he selected him over his other options, and it’s a decision that he certainly won’t regret any time soon.
In Stroud’s first full season in the starting QB position, he only missed one game due to a shoulder injury and showed his coaches what he could do with some incredible displays. Throughout the season, he earned first-team All-Big Ten Honors, was named as the Big Ten QB of the year and won Big Ten Freshman of the Week six times. His performances on the field also earned him several nominations, and he was the finalist for the Davey O’Brien Award and Heisman Trophy, only to lose both to Bryce Young of Alabama.
Stroud would go on to hold multiple records for the Buckeyes. For instance, in 2021, he became the first ever QB in Buckeyes’ history to throw for five touchdowns against Big Ten competition four times during the same season. He was instrumental in the impressive 10-2 record the Buckeyes registered for the season, and only a devastating defeat to Michigan cost Ohio the chance to play for the Big 10 Championship that season. During the 2022 Rose Bowl, he inspired his teammates to overcome a 14-point deficit to beat Utah in a thrilling contest. His 573 yards in the win is a Ohio State and Rose Bowl record, and he carded 6 TDs in the contest.
In his first full season after redshirting at Ohio State, CJ ensured that his team ended the season with the nation’s top-ranked offense. They averaged 45.5 points and 551.1 yards per game, and Stroud’s contributions to his team’s rankings certainly weren’t overlooked. The media immediately started discussing CJ’s potential future trajectory to the NFL, but he still had a lot of college football left to play.
In 2022, Stroud was on the receiving end of fan and media criticism due to some less-than-sparkling performances, which has helped to strengthen his character and shape the future direction of his career. Although he didn’t post the same caliber of numbers that he achieved in his debut season with the Buckeyes, he had a good season and was the favorite to win the Heisman Award at the end of the year. Many Draft experts also predict that he will be a first-round pick in the NFL’s 2023 Draft, owing to his outstanding abilities and the fact that he’s considered the cream of the crop in the Big Ten.
Stroud is not just a talent on the field, he has dedicated his years at Ohio State to academic improvement. He pursued a major in human development and family sciences and has spoken openly about his hope of inspiring young people in his native California to make better life choices for themselves. He has seen firsthand what can happen when the temptation is there to fall into a life of negativity, and he wants to use his prominent position and education to improve the outlook of kids in Rancho Cucamonga.
Recap: CJ Stroud Profile
CJ Stroud’s life has been far from easy, but a strong family support network and his faith’s depth have helped him start out on the football field. He’s come a long way since attending Rancho Cucamonga High School and has made a name for himself as one of his generation’s most exciting college quarterbacks.
With so much football still ahead of him, the sky is very much the limit for this talented Californian. The 2023 Draft will be a defining moment in his career, and where he ends up will be the subject of much interest in Ohio and further afield.
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