Get to Know…The Houston Texans’ C.J. Stroud

Get to Know…The Houston Texans’ C.J. Stroud

C.J. Stroud is putting together one of the most dominant rookie seasons in recent NFL memory.

Heading into Week 14, Stroud leads the league in passing yards and has 20 touchdowns to only five interceptions, whilst leading the Houston Texans to their first seven-win season since 2019.

It’s therefore no surprise that many experts consider Stroud a shoo-in for Offensive Rookie of the Year, with some touting Stroud as a potential MVP candidate.

Instrumental in Stroud’s rise to the top was his claiming of two records in just nine weeks. In Week 5, Stroud broke the record for the most pass attempts, without throwing an interception, to start an NFL career. Then in Week 9, Stroud put up 470 passing yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – breaking the record for the most passing yards in a single game by a rookie.

With the playoffs rapidly approaching, the Texans are counting on the 22-year-old to maintain his elite level of play and finally bring post-season success to Houston – something that Stroud has had his heart set on since draft day: “All I knew is that I was going to work my tail off every day to not only play well, but to bring that city up.”

Hard work has been a fixture throughout Stroud’s journey to the NFL – a journey that was by no means without adversity.

Born in Southern California in 2001, Coleridge Bernard Stroud IV had a particularly turbulent upbringing. In 2016, while Stroud was in middle school, his dad was incarcerated for various crimes related to drug abuse – plunging the family into severe debt just as Stroud joined Rancho Cucamonga High School. Desperate for an escape, however, Stroud’s focus shifted away from school and onto the streets.

Following “a couple life and death situations that woke [him] up from what [he] was doing,” Stroud eventually found his way back on track and was more motivated than ever to make it as a quarterback in the NFL.

For Stroud, the first step in that journey was earning an invitation to the ‘Elite 11’ – America’s premier high school quarterback event – boasting the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Justin Herbert among its alumni.

Despite throwing for 2,343 yards and 19 touchdowns during his first season as Rancho Cucamonga’s starter, Stroud was one of the last players to be invited to the 2019 Elite 11 – coming in as the ‘under-the-radar recruit’.

Not only did Stroud exceed all expectations by making it to the finals, he went one step further and was crowned MVP, joining a very exclusive list of players to ever lift the trophy – earning himself a full scholarship offer from Ohio State.

The reigning Elite 11 MVP and Inland Valley Daily Bulletin Offensive Player of the Year, following his senior year at high school, began college as a true redshirt freshman and backup to Justin Fields.

“It was good for me to learn from him. I just had to be a leaning hand, to be a leaning brother to him and try to follow him. That taught me a lot, just scratching and clawing to be a better quarterback each and every day,” Stroud said on Fields.

In the wake of Justin Fields’ departure for the NFL, Stroud was presented with the opportunity to win the starting QB position and took full advantage, as Head Coach Ryan Day said: “C.J. came in, right off the bat and got after it.”

Stroud’s first college start, on September 2nd 2021 against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, didn’t initially go according to plan. At half time, he was 13 of 22 with one interception as the Buckeyes trailed 14-10. However, after the break, Stroud recovered and finished the game with 294 yards and four touchdowns – leading Ohio State to a 45-31 victory.

That was just the beginning for C.J. Stroud who went on to record 8,123 yards and 85 touchdowns before declaring for the 2023 NFL draft.

In the run up to the draft, Stroud was seen as one of, if not, the top quarterback prospect – impressing at both the NFL Scouting Combine and his Pro Day. However, Stroud’s draft stock began to rapidly decline following the release of the S2 Cognition test results.

The S2 Cognition test is “the only sports evaluation that scientifically measures an athlete’s game-speed cognitive abilities down to a millisecond” as per their official website.

With quarterbacks averaging a score of 76, Stroud’s 18 made him the lowest-scoring quarterback prospect in 2023 and put him a staggering 70 points behind rival, and future first overall pick, Bryce Young.

After being drafted second overall by the Houston Texans and posting a rookie season for the record books, Stroud has led many to question just how effective the S2 Cognitive test actually is. However, no one is still questioning just how effective C.J. Stroud is, or will be, for years to come.

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