Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud announced on Monday that he will forgo the remainder of his college career and enter the 2023 NFL Draft. Stroud was a two-time finalist for the Heisman Trophy (2021, 2022) after taking over the starting job prior to the 2021 season.
"First and foremost, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for blessing me with health, favor and opportunity. To my family, thank you for laying the foundation on which I stand. Through all of the uncertanties, one thing was always certain, our love for one another."
Stroud was a five-star prospect and the No. 29 overall recruit in the Class of 2020. The Rancho Cucamonga, California, native had 8,123 yards passing and 85 touchdowns during his three-year career with the Buckeyes.
"To my teammates, coaches, strength staff, nutritionists, academic advisors, support team and everyone who works at the WHAC, thank you for building that young 18-year-old redshirt into the man I am today. To Buckeye nation, it's been a helluva ride. To the students, alumni, and all of THE Ohio State fans, thank you for welcoming a kid from Cali into the Buckeye family. This process has been difficult, and the decision was one of the hardest I've ever had to make. As a kid, I dreamed of playing football at the highest level."
Stroud is the No. 4 overall prospect and the second-ranked quarterback in the CBS Sports NFL Draft prospect rankings. CBS NFL Draft writer Ryan Wilson projected Stroud to go No. 5 overall to the Oakland Raiders in his latest mock draft.
Buckeyes quarterback room is still in good shape
Ohio State will still be in good hands even though Stroud is moving on. Rising junior Kyle McCord was 16 of 20 for 190 yards and a touchdown in seven games in 2022, and was 25 of 38 for 416 yards and two touchdowns in five games as a true freshman in 2021. While he doesn't have a ton of experience at this level, Stroud was a four-star prospect and the No. 49 overall player in his high school recruiting class.
If McCord doesn't win the job, Ohio State still has former four-star Devin Brown, the No. 44 overall player in last season's recruiting cycle, waiting in the wings. Ohio State's depth chart at quarterback is extremely healthy without Stroud, and that doesn't even include players who coach Ryan Day might pursue in the transfer portal.
Ohio State's 2023 roster has been very fluid
Wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr., and safety Ronnie Hickman are just a few of the Buckeyes who have decided to leave Columbus early.
Smith-Njigba is one of the most highly touted receivers in the country despite the fact that he fought through several injuries in 2022. However, he caught a team-high 95 passes for 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns in 2021. Smith-Njigba is ranked as the No. 25 overall player and third-ranked wide receiver in the CBS Sports' NFL Draft prospect rankings. Johnson, the 6-foot-3, 310-pound star offensive tackle, was a consensus All-American after starting at right tackle for the Buckeyes and was a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award. He moved over to tackle after starting all 13 games at guard in 2021. Johnson is the No. 17 overall prospect in the CBS Sports NFL draft prospect rankings.
Day did receive good news last week, though. Linebacker Tommy Eichenberg, the Buckeyes' leading tackler with 120, announced that he will return for his fifth year with the program. Tight end Cade Stover, who had 36 catches for 406 yards receiving and five touchdowns, will also return to Columbus for his fifth season with the Buckeyes.