It wasn't his pro day, but Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud grateful for chance to throw

Bill Rabinowitz
The Columbus Dispatch

C.J. Stroud isn’t eligible for the NFL draft yet, but the Ohio State quarterback spent Wednesday afternoon slinging passes to soon-to-be first-round receivers Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave during OSU’s pro day.

Coming off a redshirt freshman season in which he threw for 4,435 yards and 44 touchdowns and was a Heisman Trophy finalist, Stroud is already projected to be one of the top prospects for the 2023 draft.

Consider Wednesday a sneak preview.

“I damn near didn't sleep last night,” Stroud said with a smile. “I was excited to come out here and have the opportunity.”

Stroud said he got helpful feedback from NFL personnel, both praise and constructive criticism.

“I think that will just catapult me into next year,” he said.

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Wilson and Olave opted out of playing in the Rose Bowl, so this was the first time Stroud had thrown to the receivers since the Michigan game, though Olave did practice on a limited basis with the team in California.

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Wilson and Olave had been training elsewhere and OSU is just coming off spring break, so Stroud had only a couple of days to prepare for Wednesday. Still, Stroud said it felt like second nature reuniting with the receivers. Unless Stroud is drafted by Wilson or Olave’s NFL team, this was the last time he’ll throw to them, a fact not lost on him.

“I don’t get emotional, but I’m proud of them,” Stroud said. “Ever since I came in as a freshman, they've always respected me as a man and treated me like I was going to be a real good ballplayer. I appreciate them for that.”

Stroud said his primary goal Wednesday was to make Wilson and Olave look good rather than trying to impress scouts himself. But he knows the experience will help when it’s his pro day.

“I’m definitely blessed to have this opportunity to get my feet wet with pro day,” Stroud said. “Maybe next year, or I don’t know when — that’s all up to God — I feel I’ll get another shot at it.”

That was the rationale for having him throw.

“It's just to put something in your back pocket that you've done it before,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “Now there's a reference point. Anytime you do something for the second time, it's a lot easier.”

Wilson said he was happy to have one last day catching balls from Stroud.

“That was just like old times,” he said. “C.J. puts that thing and drops it in there. It's truly special to watch.”

Though Olave and Wilson are moving on, Stroud still will have plenty of elite targets this year, including Jaxon Smith-Njigbe, Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka and Julian Fleming.

“At a place like this, I’m blessed just to be able to reload,” he said.

Bill Rabinowitz covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at or on Twitter @brdispatch.

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