C.J. Stroud Has “A Really Special Feeling” About Future in Houston, Says There’s “No Limit” On What He Can Accomplish in Year One With the Texans

By Griffin Strom on May 1, 2023 at 10:10 am
C.J. Stroud
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no more need for speculation.

Following a drama-filled leadup to the 2023 NFL draft for C.J. Stroud, the former Ohio State quarterback now knows where he’ll begin his professional football career. The Houston Texans took the two-time Heisman Trophy finalist with the No. 2 overall pick in Kansas City Thursday, making Stroud the new face of a franchise that’s fallen on hard times over the past three seasons.

The Texans haven’t won more than four games in a season since 2019, but Stroud hopes to be a catalyst for immediate change and success once he gets started in Houston.

“For the rebuild, in my opinion, it's on its way. With the guys already in the locker room, that's what I think is my mission right now is just to accept the opportunity that I've been given and really just take it full go,” Stroud said during a press conference at the draft Thursday. “And I'm really excited to go be teammates with the guys in the locker room, have fun with them, build relationships, build bonds, have team camaraderie, I think that's something that I bring to the table really well is just how I can lead. And I'm really excited to get in that locker room. I haven't been in a locker room in four months, so I'm really excited for that.”

Stroud will undoubtedly face the toughest test of his football career upon transitioning to the highest level of the sport. But the California native believes the struggles he’s been through in life up until this point, both on the field and off, will aid him in the process. After facing plenty of pre-draft criticism and still winding up a two-two NFL draft selection, Stroud said he isn’t concerned about the inevitable judgment that will come his way as he acclimates to the NFL.

“I'm battle-tested. I think God has put a lot of trials and tribulations in my life and it's not for no reason. It's to lead people to him and of course to get me ready for what I have to go through,” Stroud said. “So yeah man, I'm wearing the armor of God, I'm scarred up. But at the same time, that's what you want. You want somebody who's been through adversity, somebody who's gonna persevere through issues. 

“And I ain't really worried about the talk. People gonna talk, good, bad, ugly, sad. But I'm just gonna continue to be myself, continue to be a great man of God, continue to lead, and now that I'm a Texan, I'm gonna continue to do it the Texan way. Be relentless, swarm, everything that Coach (DeMeco) Ryans and Nick Caserio, the McNairs, man. I want to thank them for the opportunity. Because I mean, they took a trust in not only me, but Will as well. And I think I'm gonna bring just myself, man. So everything I've been through, it's not for no reason. I think that's why I went through it just to get to a team like this and be able to flip it around and win games and do as best as I can.”

Stroud doesn’t have to advocate for himself, either. In the brief time he’s spent with fellow Texans’ first-round pick Will Anderson, the former Alabama pass rusher has plenty of positive takeaways about the Buckeye quarterback. 

“Just spending that time with C.J., I can tell you he's about business. We kind of share the same mindset,” Anderson said on draft night. “What we want, we're gonna go get it. And I feel like it's some stuff that we both don't know about each other, but I can tell what he's been through, what I've been through, we know what it takes to get where we want. We know what we felt in previous situations and how we had to arise from that. So I know that he's gonna do whatever he needs to do to stay accountable, and I'm gonna do the same for myself.”

And Stroud doesn’t just want to impact Houston on the field. Shortly after he learned he’d be a Texan, Stroud said he’d already discussed plans to set up charitable organizations in the community to give back to those in need.

“I think something that we can bring to the table is hope. I think me and Will both have been through a lot in our lives, and we know what it takes to get where we're at,” Stroud said. “And we want to just give people hope, and we want to inspire people and want to help any way that we can. So something that I plan to do, my guy (Dylan Thompson) who I've already met with player engagement at Houston with the Texans, I plan to get a plan with him to help kids, help the city of Houston in any way I can. 

“I want to come up with a couple of foundations to help kids, I want to help single mothers, people who's parents are incarcerated, all things that I went through. So I want to be a helping hand because I feel like football is just our passion. It's not really our purpose. Our purpose is to help others, and I think God has blessed us with the capability to do both. So I'm really inspired to do that.”

"I'm not gonna put no limit on what we can do our rookie season. We can turn this whole thing around."– C.J. Stroud

Stroud doesn’t expect his rookie season in the NFL to be flawless. But he’s not entering the league with small expectations. With him and Anderson leading a stellar draft class for the Texans, Stroud said there’s no limit on what the team can attain in 2023.

“My message to the Texans fan base, I'd say get ready. We bringing it, man,” Stroud said. “I don't know what it's gonna look like when we first get there, but we're gonna work. And I think that's what it's about. Putting in the work, making sure that when are numbers are called that we make the play, that we try to do as best we can to get back to the top like they were a couple years ago. We want to bring wins on wins on wins. 

“And we're not gonna be perfect. I think that's something that I want to talk about, just not be perfect. Just being ourselves, man. And really, if that's what it is, I don't think there's really no limit on what me and Will can do. I'm not gonna put no limit on what we can do our rookie season. We can turn this whole thing around. So yeah, I really feel like there's a really special feeling as I go to Houston.”

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