When Jack Miller committed to the Buckeyes two summers ago, some comparisons were drawn between Miller and a young Joe Burrow.
Over the last few months, evaluators looking at C.J. Stroud have made comparisons between him and a young Dwayne Haskins.
In 2018, Burrow and Haskins were trapped in a battle for QB1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Oh, how sweet and juicy it is when history repeats itself.
Stroud, from Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) High School, committed to the Buckeyes and subsequently signed his letter of intent on Wednesday afternoon. Miller, of Chaparral (Ariz.) High School, did the same, committing on July 1, 2018 and signing his LOI on Wednesday in Phoenix.
Both come to the Buckeyes from out west, both have already signed, and both plan on enrolling early. Ohio State heavily recruiting a second quarterback (Stroud) after already having a top quarterback committed for more than a year (Miller) was the most gripping recruiting storyline of their 2020 class, so Buckeye fans and media will be comparing and contrasting the two from now until the end of time.
We might as well start now, as the QB competition between the two has officially begun.
The two are steadfastly different in terms of where they enter the Buckeye program momentum-wise. Stroud became the hottest quarterback target in the country for a four-to-five month stretch after winning Elite 11 MVP honors in July and rose from a three-star prospect ranked No. 252 overall on July 31, skyrocketing all the way up to the No. 2-ranked pro-style quarterback with a No. 83 overall ranking.
Miller, however, was ranked as the No. 3 pro-style quarterback and No. 47 overall player when he committed to the Buckeyes but saw his ranking plummet like the Dow Jones in '08, falling back to No. 14 at his position and No. 290 overall due to a rash of unfortunate injuries. First came a knee injury that forced him to miss half of his junior season, then a back injury (a lat strain) kept him from competing at The Opening Finals this summer and a bone bruise in his throwing shoulder had him sitting out five games as a senior.
When he's healthy, Miller is a dynamic pocket passer who is one of the best in the nation at making on-schedule throws, and he can cut up a defense by making nearly every throw on the field with a smooth, effortless arm and quick release. He's able to sling it downfield in the pocket or on the run, consistently giving his receivers accurate, on-the-money passes.
Danny Hernandez, a west coast quarterback trainer/coach, has worked with Miller since his freshman year in Arizona camps and an elite camp called "QB Collective," which features some of the best quarterback prospects in the country being developed by a host of former and current NFL coaches such as Mike Shanahan, Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay and Matt LaFleur.
Hernandez is very familiar with Stroud, has worked extensively with some of the nation's top high school quarterbacks, such as Bryce Young and DJ Uiagalelei, and he has been able to evaluate Miller's game, especially at last year's QB Collective camp that Miller attended.
"We get pretty much every top guy in the country to go to that camp, and I got a chance to work with Jack there," Hernandez said. "I've seen Jack grow throughout the years. Watching the stuff Jack does, he’s a very good guy with scheduled throws, but he’s still athletic. Jack's able to create in his own way. He’s not as elusive as a Bryce Young or a C.J. Stroud, but he’s not a tree back there, either.
"I’ve worked with Jack several times. I’ve been with him at camps ... and he's a different type of QB (than those guys). He’s extremely talented, but his style and C.J.’s style are just a little bit different. They're very different."
Miller, 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, doesn't have cement in his shoes, has some elusiveness and can accurately throw on the run, though his combine-type measurements aren't as solid as Stroud's. His last official measurements, at The Opening Regional in February, are 5.05 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 4.85 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle (a drill that measures quickness and change-of-direction ability) and a 27.20-inch vertical.
Stroud, 6-foot-2.5, 195 pounds, ran a 4.85 in the 40, 4.56 in the shuttle and has a vertical of 32 inches, numbers that were official as of May 11. He's not Justin Fields (4.51 in the 40, 4.16 in the shuttle and 33.20-inch vertical) in terms of the measurables, but he's more athletic than Miller and is similar to Fields with his improvisational skills, off-schedule throws and creativity.
"I think he’s able to create," Hernandez said of Stroud. "That’s one of the things that’s so important that you really want to have in your quarterback nowadays. I talked to an offensive coordinator from a different university, and he had just finished telling me he had finished watching film on Kyler Murray. He said, 'I’m never recruiting another non-athletic quarterback ever again after watching that because when you get a guy like that as an OC, even if you make a bad call, guys like that can get you out of that. They can create and find space and find different angles."
Hernandez is not comparing Stroud to the Heisman winner and No. 1 overall player in the NFL Draft. But he does compare Stroud to another dynamic athlete in Bryce Young.
Both Stroud and Young have been elite basketball players in their prep days, as Young was a top player on the AAU circuit before he chose to focus on football and Stroud played for Rancho Cucamonga through his junior season.
"I think some of the things he’s able to do out there with his creativity, they’re very basketball-related. I think that’s kind of what separates him from a lot of these guys," Hernandez said. "At the same time, I think C.J. can do all the normal stuff. He’s still a good pocket passer. That’s the thing I think that happens sometimes with some of these guys that are a little bit more gifted on doing outside-the-pocket stuff, we just assume, 'Well they’re so great outside the pocket that they’re probably not that good in the pocket.' But he is. He really is.
"Looking at some of the stuff he’s doing, he’s still really good in the pocket and with his scheduled throws. I think at the Elite 11, he had the best score when they did the Pro Day portion. That’s all pocket stuff. That’s all on-time stuff, and he was spot-on. So he showed he has the accuracy to do those nice, controlled throws in a nice, clean setting."
Ohio State's plan for a long time was to take two quarterbacks in this class. But the original plan was to take a dude and a guy, a.k.a. one quarterback who the coaches believed could be a dominant playmaker at the position, and then another quarterback who was pretty good but would be a complementary piece to that dude.
At one point in time, it looked Miller was the dude and anyone else the Buckeyes brought in would be the supplemental piece. Now, it's possible that Stroud is the dude and Miller is a guy. But, objectively, it looks like Ohio State has found itself two guys who can compete to become Fields' backup next season, the starter in 2021 and lay claim to the title of "The Dude" for the Buckeyes moving forward.
Whoever wins, he will have done it in a completely different style than the other.
Let the games begin.