Ohio State held its Pro Day Wednesday, and there was eagerness surrounding the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. With 30 of 32 NFL teams represented and more than 100 personnel, teams waited for one player to take center stage.
Enter quarterback C.J. Stroud, who currently sits as the odds-on favorite to go No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft, according to FanDuel Sportsbook . With eyes focused on him, the Inland Empire, California, native showed his skills.
Head coach Ryan Day said he thought Stroud handled the spotlight soundly, which fares well for Stroud moving to the next level of competition.
“When you come and be the quarterback at Ohio State, it’s almost a test to see how you can handle the NFL,” Day said. “If you can handle being the quarterback at Ohio State, you can handle being in the NFL. And I think he’s passed all of those tests.”
Stroud has met with a variety of teams and will continue to do so leading up to the draft beginning April 27. The 2022 second team All-American honoree could become the first Ohio State quarterback selected No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft.
But if you ask Stroud, he’s not worried about making a case for being the top pick.
“That’s not my job,” Stroud said. “My job is going here and do the best I can as myself. I’m competing against myself everyday to be the best version of myself, like coach Day always taught us to do. Whatever happens, happens, it’s not in my control, so there’s no reason to stress.”
Although Stroud said being the first overall pick would be “a dream,” he said he wants to bring a Super Bowl to a team that loves him not only as a football player, but as a person.
“Definitely, of course I want to accomplish that,” Stroud said. “But if not, I just want to go to whoever really loves me not only as a football player, but as a man of God and as a man of the community.”
The Carolina Panthers, who currently hold the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft after a trade with the Chicago Bears, were well-represented at Ohio State’s Pro Day. Among the personnel for the Panthers were owner David Tepper, general manager Scott Fitterer, head coach Frank Reich and quarterbacks coach Josh McCown.
A lot can happen in a month, and Stroud faces heavy competition to be selected No. 1 overall, such as from Alabama quarterback Bryce Young and 2021 Heisman Trophy Winner, whom the Panthers will be watching closely during Alabama’s Pro Day Thursday.
For some players, Pro Day was a chance to soak up playing time with Stroud for one of the last times. Second-year wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. said he’ll miss not just Stroud’s talent, but his friendship.
“He’s a great quarterback, I couldn’t ask for a better one,” Harrison said. “But really just as a friend, just hanging out with him and having those talks in the locker room. That’s what I’m going to miss the most.”
Stroud said he’s enjoying the process of the NFL Draft as best as he can. He said the possibility of being selected high in the NFL Draft is a blessing, and it’s something he doesn’t take for granted.
“Of course, you’ve got to find beauty in the struggle,” Stroud said. “It’s not always easy having everybody in your business all the time. But at the end of the day, it’s a blessing, because I’ve been dreaming about doing this my whole life.”
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