If you would have said CJ Stroud was coming back to OSU a week ago people would have called you crazy. But with just over 48 hours left for him to declare for the NFL draft his status still remains unknown. And you know what happens when things hang in limbo...the tin foil hats come out.
The idea of Stroud coming back is getting less and less crazy by the day. Depending on where you look Stroud is rated one of the best three QBs coming out and will probably be taken in the top 4 of this draft, so the thought that he would pass up guaranteed first round signing bonus money seems asinine. But little by little online detectives are connecting dots they say point to Stroud coming back and
trying to finally beat Michigan handling some unfinished business.
We have seen guys return before but this would be among the most notable names to ever do it. The fact NIL money is in play certainly changes things from how they were done in the past too. It used to be a no-brainer not to risk injury and finally take some money that wasn't delivered to you in a duffle bag on your porch or via a no show job. But Stroud is rumored to have a $4 Million NIL package waiting for him should he return for one more season.
But the difference between $4 Million and $20-24 Million is about as big as Peyton Manning's forehead. And I know fans of the team he used play QB for are certainly interested in what Stroud decides to do.
So far Zach Harrison, Ronnie Hickman, Paris Johnson Jr., Dawand Jones, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Luke Wypler have all declared for the draft so the roster will be vastly different next season. But could Stroud's pride be strong enough to keep him in school? He has not beaten Michigan or won a playoff game as a starting QB but it's not like he needs to prove anything else from a skills standpoint. This would be a decision strictly based on wanting to rectify those two glaring holes in his college resume.
In the game against Georgia alone Stroud showed he can make plays with his legs and drop dimes outside the pocket very few other QBs can make with constancy. No doubt the the scouts of NFL teams in need of a QB were drooling all over themselves.
And the dots the internet is connecting seem to be growing by the day. Not only has he yet to declare for the draft but also the odds of Will Levis getting selected as the #1 overall pick have dramatically increased in Vegas. Add that to the fact Stroud has been eerily silent and Marvin Harrison Jr tweeted and deleted a cryptic tweet yesterday and we have a full blown Alex Jones style conspiracy on our hands.
If you are the Texans, Colts, Panthers, and possibly the Seahawks - all teams most experts think could select a QB early in the 1st round - then you have to be shitting yourself right now. Even if Stroud isn't sitting at the top of you board this is a numbers game. Four teams want to draft a QB, without Stroud there is really only two that seem worthy of being drafted that high, therefore someone is going to be assed out come draft night.
This simple case of supply and demand could drive up the price for the number one overall pick and be a huge blessing for the Bears who I'm assuming will be trying to orchestrate a bidding war.
The most likely scenario is Stroud declares for the draft sometime in the next few days and all this will be forgotten by next week. But if he does decide to come back it puts Ohio State right back at the top of the National Championship conversation again next season and might even cover up a little for their uncharacteristically bad recruiting class.