Summer 2024

'Man of God' C.J. Stroud leaning on his foundation of faith ahead of NFL draft

C.J. Stroud’s explanation for why he should be the top pick when the 2023 NFL Draft commences Thursday night begins with his faith. He believes the film speaks for itself when it comes to his abilities as a quarterback.

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Stroud is more concerned about making sure teams know who he is as a person and a leader.

“One thing that I start with is just my foundation as a man where I’m a man of God,” Stroud told CBS Sports last month after being asked why he should go No. 1. “I want that to be known. I’m responsible, and I’m respectable, and I’m very mature for my age I feel. I had to kind of grow up fast growing up, so it kind of forced me to kind of be ready for these moments.”

In his two seasons as a starter at Ohio State, Stroud completed 69.3% of his passes while throwing for 8,123 yards and 85 touchdowns. The Buckeyes went 22-4 with Stroud, winning the Rose Bowl two years ago and losing to eventual national champion Georgia by one point in the Peach Bowl last season. The Inland Empire, California, native was a Heisman Trophy finalist both years, finishing fourth in 2021 and third in 2022.

Speaking to the media before his final season at Ohio State, Stroud explained how his faith motivates him to impact people through leadership and love.

“That’s what God has called me to do is be a leader,” he said. “So I definitely try to show love and let people know that whatever they’re going through or whatever they have been through, they’re not by themselves. They have help. They have inspiration. They can look up to me.”

His leadership skills were on display last season when he used his NIL deal with Express to give each Buckeye player a $500 gift card so they could buy a new game-day suit.

Stroud developed his own personal relationship with Christ after his father, who was a pastor, was arrested in 2015.

“When I got to college, I found Christ for myself,” Stroud recently told “Faith on the Field” host Rob Maaddi. “It’s definitely something that I’m still learning to this day. I’m definitely not perfect. … It does keep me grounded; it does keep me humble just because I know anything can be stripped away at any point.”

The social media post announcing that Stroud was declaring for the draft began with him giving glory to God and included Proverbs 3:5-6 as the caption.

“First and foremost, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for blessing me with health, favor and opportunity,” he wrote.

Much of the intrigue surrounding Thursday’s first round revolves around Stroud and the other top quarterback prospects. As many as four quarterbacks, including Stroud, could be selected in the top five. Most mock drafts have Alabama’s Bryce Young going No. 1 to the Carolina Panthers, and Stroud going to the Houston Texans at No. 2 or the Indianapolis Colts at No. 4. The draft begins at 8 p.m. ET.

Wherever Stroud ends up, he knows his faith will continue to be the foundation of his life as he begins his NFL journey.

“Football has a lot of ups and downs, it has a lot of twists and turns, but at the end of the day, it’s all about your foundation,” he said in an interview with Fox News. “And something that’s set my foundation is my faith. It’s something I’m not perfect in, but I try to work every day to be better, and I definitely think that’s what saved me.”

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