COLUMBUS — Based on three small pieces of evidence many people see C.J. Stroud as the early leader to win the starting quarterback job at Ohio State over Jack Miller, freshman Kyle McCord and maybe another freshman, Quinn Ewers, who has indicated he will graduate from high school early and enroll at OSU in the next few days.
But Stroud says he sees the situation very differently. He says he motivates himself by acting as if he trails his fellow QBs in the race to be the starter.
“I feel like I’m last. I feel like I’m in the back,” Stroud said on Tuesday when he, Miller and McCord answered questions from the media at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center a day before the start of preseason practice.
“I’ve had a mindset since I was little to have a chip on my shoulder. It’s just kind of where I come from, always being the underdog,” he said.
None of OSU’s quarterbacks has thrown a pass in a college game. But there were two indications Stroud was the back-up to Justin Fields last season in non-passing situations. When Fields was forced to the sideline after taking big hits against Michigan and Clemson, it was Stroud who was sent into the game for one play before Fields came back.
And while Miller and McCord both had their moments in the spring game, a case could be made that Stroud looked the most game ready of the three on a day when he completed 16 of 22 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
Stroud called the spring game “irrelevant” and talked about continuing to keep a chip on his shoulder. But that should not be taken as a lack of confidence.
“Even if things go the way I think they will for me this year I’ll still have that chip on my shoulder. It’s not a negative chip, it’s a chip of I want it more than anybody else,” he said.
“We’ve switched the offense around a little since Justin was more of a runner than we are. I can throw the ball with anybody, I can run the ball with anybody. I feel like I’m one of the best players in the country.”
Stroud said he feels like he has made Ohio State’s offense his own. Asked what he meant by that, he said, “I made the offense my own just by being myself, just showing my abilities and whenever they asked me to do something, I just did it.
“They trusted me to go in and do the job,” he said about the two times he was called on when Fields was injured.
He sees consistency as the key to securing the starter’s role.
“I think more than anything in anything in life you have to be consistent at it. We have a sign in the (quarterbacks) room that says, ‘No bad days.’ Not having any bad days is how you get the job done. I think I had a pretty good spring in footwork and timing and I think I grasped the offense better.”
He said he and the two other quarterbacks will not have a problem with Ewers if he arrives on campus in the next few days as he has said he will.
“We’ll accept him in the room like we did with Kyle (McCord). Quinn and I are cool. I’m excited to get him here,” Stroud said.