C.J. Stroud Named Ohio State's Starting QB for Week 1 vs. Minnesota

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 21, 2021

COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 17:  Quarterback C.J. Stroud #7 of the Ohio State Buckeyes in action during the Spring Game at Ohio Stadium on April 17, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day announced Saturday that C.J. Stroud will be the Buckeyes' starting quarterback for their Week 1 game against Big Ten rival Minnesota on Sept. 2.

"He has separated himself with his leadership skills, accuracy," Day told reporters after Stroud competed with Jack Miller and Kyle McCord for the top spot on the QB depth chart.

Stroud became the presumptive starter after an impressive showing in OSU's spring game. He completed 14 of his 19 throws for 175 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

The Buckeyes began training camp with an open competition for the starting job, but Day made it clear Monday that Stroud was the front-runner based on his all-around performances.

"I don't know how much separation, I'm not sure, but every day he's been competing, he's been taking care of the football, making good decisions, he's been a leader," Day said. "Those are all some of the traits we've been looking for. Certainly moving the team down the field to score touchdowns is something we've been looking for."

Now the decision is official.

Stroud joined the Buckeyes out of Rancho Cucamonga High School in California as a 4-star prospect and the second-ranked pro-style quarterback in the 2020 recruiting class, according to 247Sports' composite rankings.

He didn't make a major impact as a true freshman with Justin Fields, the No. 11 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft by the Chicago Bears, guiding the Ohio State offense last year. That said, he did have one highlight-reel play, a 48-yard touchdown run late in a blowout win over Michigan State in December:

Stroud will be thrust right into a pressure-packed environment. His first start will come on the road against the Golden Gophers, and then the Buckeyes welcome 11th-ranked Oregon to The Horseshoe for a marquee clash in Week 2.

Although the schedule hits a lull between those two games and the heart of the Big Ten slate beginning in October, Ohio State can't afford a sluggish start if it wants to make a serious push toward a College Football Playoff berth.

Looking further ahead, Stroud's performance this season will be crucial if he wants to keep the starting spot for the remainder of his tenure because Quinn Ewers, the top-ranked quarterback in the 2022 class, recently reclassified to 2021 so he could join the Buckeyes for practice this year while also exploring NIL opportunities.

Ohio State opens the campaign as the No. 4 ranked team in the country.