Ohio State football quarterback C.J. Stroud named one of four Heisman Trophy finalists
Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud is one of four finalists for the Heisman Trophy, the most prestigious player of the year award in college football, it was announced Monday night.
Stroud will join Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett and Alabama quarterback Bryce Young at a ceremony on Saturday in New York, where the winner will be revealed.
There is little suspense, though, in this year’s race.
Young, who threw for 421 yards and three touchdowns in the Crimson Tide’s 41-24 win over previously top-ranked Georgia in the SEC championship game on Saturday, is seen as the heavy favorite to capture the award. He would become the school’s second straight winner, following wide receiver DeVonta Smith.
A two-man battle had appeared to be shaping up last month after Stroud threw for six touchdowns — all of them in the first half — in a rout of then-seventh-ranked Michigan State on Nov. 20.
But after the Buckeyes were upset at Michigan the following week, it cost them a berth in the College Football Playoff and Big Ten championship game, where Stroud might have made a compelling closing case ahead of Monday's voting deadline.
His selection as a finalist is still a significant step for a redshirt freshman who had not attempted a pass prior to September and needed to prevail in a preseason training camp competition to win the starting job.
Stroud ultimately threw 395 passes and put together one of the most impressive statistical seasons in the Football Bowl Subdivision, completing 70.9% of his attempts for 3,862 yards, 38 touchdowns and five interceptions. His 182.24 passer rating ranked second nationally.
Last week, he was named the Big Ten’s offensive player of the year, quarterback of the year and freshman of the year, the first-ever to sweep all three awards.
His sterling debut as a starter also included overcoming injury. In the season opener at Minnesota, he separated an AC joint in his throwing shoulder, limiting him in the following weeks and prompting him to sit out against Akron on Sept. 25 before recovering.
Assessing Stroud’s candidacy for the Heisman on Sunday afternoon, Buckeyes coach Ryan Day said, “I think his play speaks for itself and what he did this year.”
He also acknowledged Stroud's production came despite sitting out most of the second half of several of their late-season wins.
“There were some games where he was only in there for the first half,” Day said, “so maybe his numbers would have been higher if he played in all those games. But I thought he played really well, and I think he deserves to be in New York.”
The Buckeyes' previous starting quarterbacks were also selected as finalists, featuring Justin Fields in 2019 and Dwayne Haskins in 2018. Star defensive end Chase Young was also a finalist two years ago.
Before this recent stretch, Ohio State's last quarterback to be selected as a finalist was Troy Smith in 2006, the year he won the Heisman.
The ceremony will be held at the PlayStation Theater, a concert venue near Times Square, after it was virtual last season due to the coronavirus pandemic.