Redshirt freshman C.J. Stroud grabs early lead in Ohio State’s QB competition

Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud is separating himself in the team’s quarterback competition, although no decision on the starting job has been made yet, coach Ryan Day said Monday.

Stroud, a redshirt freshman, has been competing with redshirt freshman Jack Miller and true freshman Kyle McCord during training camp. Quinn Ewers, a heralded 2022 quarterback recruit who recently reclassified, joined the team for preseason practice Monday. Day praised the development of all of Ohio State’s quarterbacks and said depth chart decisions will be made closer to Ohio State’s season opener Sept. 2 at Minnesota. But Stroud will be getting more snaps with the first-team offense during practice this week.

Ohio State is looking to replace standout Justin Fields, a first-round NFL draft pick in April.

“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 of Stroud. “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.”

Day said the quarterbacks “understand no decision has been made yet, but that’s where it’s at.” Competition will continue for the next week of camp, including possibly who would be the No. 2 quarterback behind Stroud.

“It’s a long season, that’s what I think all those guys understand and will continue to understand,” Day said. “We’re talking about going all the way till January, so my experience is we’re going to need everybody. One thing’s for sure: There’s going to be one starter in terms of that first play against Minnesota, and at that point, we’ll see where it goes.”

The 6-foot-3, 218-pound Stroud, a native of Rancho Cucamonga, California, appeared in three games last season and had a 48-yard rushing touchdown against Michigan State. Stroud passed for 185 yards and two touchdowns in Ohio State’s spring game.

Day said Stroud’s body of work during the past few weeks of practice has given him the edge. ESPN rated Stroud as the No. 2 pocket passer and No. 104 overall player in the 2020 recruiting class.

Ewers’ decision to reclassify and enroll at Ohio State is driven by the name, image and likeness opportunities afforded to college athletes, which he couldn’t have if he remained for his senior year at Southlake Carroll High School in Texas. Day, who revealed he first offered a scholarship to Ewers when Ewers was in eighth grade, said Ewers’ earlier-than-expected arrival is a “unique situation.”

“This is all new to everybody,” Day said. “I know it was hard for him to leave his high school teammates. I know it was very, very hard for him to say bye to his high school coach. They were very, very close. It’s just one of those things, we have to start embracing different situations like this, and I know our guys are going to do the same thing. They’ll embrace him. We’ve had high-profile guys come into the program, that happens here.

“He’ll do a good job of working his way in, earning the respect of the team.”

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