The Hurry-Up: CJ Stroud and Jack Miller Discuss QB Competition, Early Enrollees Settle In Following Whirlwind All-American Game Trips

By Zack Carpenter on January 6, 2020 at 6:30 pm
CJ Stroud
CJ Stroud

The Hurry Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.

Stroud vs. Miller

Throughout this week and next, The Hurry Up will be touching a bit on the Buckeyes’ 2020 class and focusing on each position group. 

Today, the quarterbacks. 

You probably didn’t know this because we don’t talk about it much, but Ohio State signed two quarterbacks in its 2020 class. 

Though Gunnar Hoak is entering his second season on the roster, the battle for the Buckeyes’ backup job – and, in turn, the player who gets a head start to claiming the 2021 starting job – could come down to CJ Stroud and Jack Miller (with junior commit Kyle McCord being another candidate for the top spot in 2021).

Eleven Warriors met with Miller at his family’s hotel resort, The Fairmont Princess, in Scottsdale, Arizona, ahead of the College Football Playoff, and then met with Stroud this week at an All-American Bowl practice.

Each is an impressive guy who carries himself well, and their future teammates had strong praise for each one. The fight for a backup spot is almost never this intriguing, but it will be as entertaining a position battle as the Buckeyes will have heading into the 2020 campaign.

“Both kind of different stories, but I think both are really excited to come in here and go fight for playing time,” Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said. “I think to say that they're going to go compete with Justin to be the starter next year is a little bit unfair, but to fight for that backup spot next year is real. They'll both be coming in here, and you never know how that works. Before you know it, you're in it. In order to go win championships, you have to have depth at that position.”

Miller and Stroud each shared their thoughts on the impending quarterback competition with Eleven Warriors. 

Miller: “I feel like you have to have the mindset that I’m better than you and I’m gonna do my job to the best of my ability and you’re not gonna stop me. Really, just the ability to take in information all at once (is critical) and being able to see everywhere on the field and really you just have to have the ability to thrive under pressure.”

Stroud: “I don’t go into the competition – I don’t even look at it as a competition. I’m just gonna go in there and work; put my head down and just work, and when I look up I wanna be on top. But I’m just gonna let God handle it. I’m not worried about anything.”

It will be interesting to see how Day approaches their playing time situation as far as future eligibility is concerned. A super-way-too-early projection of the Buckeyes’ 2020 schedule suggests at least four blowouts. There will be more than four, but that’s being on the conservative side. 

Assuming Fields is fully healthy next season, will he put a cap on the backup competition’s winner at three games to preserve a potential redshirt? Or will Day try to get the backup as much game experience as possible to bridge the gap to the 2021 season and make his quarterback of the future a bit more comfortable with the speed and spotlight of the game? Would he rotate backups in order to get both the No. 2 and No. 3 as many snaps as possible?

Early enrollees settle in

Saturday at the Alamodome wrapped up a weeklong event of relationship-building and one-on-one battles during drills for the nation’s best high school recruits at the All-American Bowl, and there was some good and some bad for the future Buckeyes at the event. 

The overarching “good” is that Ohio State was the program with the most future players at the showcase with nine signees, beating out Alabama (seven), Clemson (six) and Texas A&M (five) for the highest total. For another comparison, the Buckeyes had five All-American Bowl invitees last year.

For six of those nine players, the focus now shifts to assimilating to college life as early enrollees, as 14 of the 24 signees in the Buckeyes’ 2020 class arrived into town this past weekend and begin classes this week. That list features C.J. Stroud, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Gee Scott Jr., Kourt Williams, Paris Johnson Jr. and Luke Wypler, all six of whom participated down in San Antonio (Lathan Ransom, Josh Fryar and Cody Simon will enroll at Ohio State this summer). 

That made for a whirlwind week for those six players (plus Under Armour All-American Bowl participants Julian Fleming, Jacolbe Cowan and Lejond Cavazos), who had to pack not just for a five-day trip but also for a lightning-quick turnaround to move to Ohio.

Getting ready to move to college is crazy for any high school senior and his or her family, and it’s an especially crunched, hectic time for those nine All-Americans.

“Yeah, it’s boom, boom, boom,” Williams told Eleven Warriors last week. “Just ready to get things rolling. It’s right around the corner so it’s go time.”

As Scott told us on Friday, “it’s a crazy reality” that after months – years – of recruitment, answering questions about commitments, how they will be utilized in the Buckeyes’ offensive or defensive system and how much they’re looking forward to stepping foot on campus, that they’re actually now beginning their Ohio State careers.

“Injuries definitely suck” at All-American Bowl

As far as last week’s “good” and “bad” goes in San Antonio, one thing in the “bad” category was obviously the injury to Smith-Njigba. Because of an ankle ailment, he won’t be able to hit the ground running in Columbus, instead having to take a step back for about a week or so before returning to full force. 

Injuries at an All-Star event like the All-American Bowl are obviously not ideal, but it comes with the territory of being the best. Ask any one of the nine Buckeyes down in San Antonio, and each one would probably say something similar to what Ransom told Eleven Warriors on Friday.

“The injuries definitely suck,” Ransom said. “I mean, Jaxon was killing it. He was dominating these DBs. For him to get hurt, that was definitely sad, but yeah, I think that’s what comes with signing up for the game is the possibility of an injury. But I think it is cool to compete against the top dudes and see where you stand, and you get to build relationships with dudes you would’ve never met without this game.”

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