C.J. Stroud is off to the NFL.
The Ohio State quarterback announced Monday that he is declaring for the NFL draft following two seasons as the Buckeyes’ starter and two top-five finishes in the Heisman Trophy voting.
Stroud, who finished fourth in the Heisman voting in 2021 and third this past season, threw for 8,123 yards and 85 touchdowns with just 12 interceptions during his time in Columbus. He is expected to be a high first-round pick in the upcoming draft, perhaps even the first quarterback off the board.
With Monday being the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft, there had been some speculation about Stroud potentially returning to Columbus for his redshirt junior season. In a statement, he admitted the decision-making process has been difficult on him, but he ultimately decided to move on to the pros.
“This process has been difficult and this decision is one of the hardest I’ve ever had to make. As a kid I dreamed of playing football at the highest level and after much prayer, I’ve made the decision that it’s time to turn those dreams into a reality,” Stroud wrote.
A native of California, Stroud was rated the No. 51 overall recruit in the class of 2020. He redshirted his first season with Justin Fields in place as OSU’s starter before moving into the QB1 role in 2021. He quickly flourished, throwing for 4,435 yards and 44 touchdowns as a redshirt freshman.
He followed that up with 3,688 yards and 41 touchdowns in 2022, including a 348-yard, four-touchdown performance in a heartbreaking College Football Playoff semifinal loss to Georgia that proved to be his final collegiate game.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Stroud is considered a surefire first-round pick who will compete with Alabama’s Bryce Young, Kentucky’s Will Levis and a few others to be the first quarterback off the board in the 2023 NFL draft.
Ohio State, meanwhile, will have a quarterback competition to settle before the 2023 season. Kyle McCord and Devin Brown appear to be the two candidates who will most likely compete for the starting job. Whoever the starter is will have players like receivers Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka, running back TreVeyon Henderson and tight end Cade Stover all returning on offense.