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  While there was plenty of hope about his potential performance, people didn't know what to expect from Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud last season. And he became a Heisman Trophy finalist. By the final game of the year, and in the Rose Bowl, Stroud had the best single-game statistical effort of any quarterback in Ohio State history, so this year they're expecting greatness. Ohio State coach Ryan Day cuts his optimism with realism. "Just because he did it last year doesn't mean it's just gonna happen this year. If anything else, he's got a bull's-eye on his chest," Day said on 97.1 The Fan recently.

Still, Stroud is no longer being chided by fans but touted as perhaps the next big thing and possibly even the No. 1 pick in next year's NFL draft. But after a great spring, offensive coordinator Jim Knowles compares Stroud's performance to a two-time Super Bowl MVP. "When I was at Ole Miss with Eli Manning, he was the same way in that the guys that are good - which C.J. is - they can diagnose. There's always a soft spot. We're trying to diagnose, bluff rotations and try to deceive the quarterback and do all those and show on picture and end up at another." -

rSo/2025 QB C.J. StroudOhio State
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