Ohio State Buckeyes: C.J. Stroud has no issue with opt-outs or transfers

COLUMBUS -- C.J. Stroud does not know who he will be throwing to when Ohio State plays Utah in the Rose Bowl.

He does not sound that worried about it, either.

“We’ll be fine even if my boy Wiglusz has to play,” Stroud said with a grin. “It doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. We just have to go win the game.”

He was referring to Sam Wiglusz, a senior walk-on from Brecksville-Broadview Heights in Northeast Ohio, but the larger question was about whether or not top receivers Chris Olave or Garrett Wilson — or both — will don the Scarlet and Gray one more time or opt out to prepare for the NFL Draft.

“I told them do whatever is best for you,” Stroud said. “At the end of the day, whatever they decide, I’m behind them.”

Olave is a senior who surprised some when he decided to come back for the 2021 season. Wilson is a junior who has not announced if he will play one more year for the Buckeyes or enter the NFL Draft, but the five-star recruit coming back in ‘22 would be an even bigger surprise.

While Olave has not gone on record about what he might do, Wilson told ElevenWarriors.com at an autograph signing event he was still considering his options earlier this week.

“In this sport — in this life, in the college football world — a lot of people do what’s best for them,” said Stroud, one of four finalists for the Heisman Trophy. “They have to do what’s best for them even if it may look like a selfish situation. Those guys gave everything to Ohio State. I’ve never seen them make a selfish decision.”

Ohio State would not be lacking for options if its top receivers are’t available on Jan. 1.

Slot receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba led the Buckeyes with 80 catch for 1,2559 yards as a sophomore while classmate Julian Fleming and true freshmen Emeka Egbuka and Marvin Harrison Jr. are all waiting in the wings.

“If (Wilson and Olave) don’t play, then it’s probably a benefit to them and I fully respect it and it’s time for guys to step up for next year, get their feet wet,” Stroud said.

Live and let transfer

Stroud also expressed no issues with fellow quarterbacks Jack Miller III and Quinn Ewers announcing they will transfer out of Ohio State.

Miller battled Stroud for the backup job last year when both were true freshmen while Ewers arrived in August considered to be the next big thing.

“Whatever they’ve got going on, Jack and Quinn will be my brothers for life,” Stroud said. “We’ve built up a bond — with Quinn only months, but I’ve been with Jack for two years. You build a brotherhood and a real friendship. Wherever he goes to play, I’ll probably go watch.”

He did not weigh in on what the growing trend of transfers might mean for college football.

“I try to stay in my lane, man,” he said to laughter from reporters in the room. “You know what I mean?”

Flu impactful, ‘no excuse’ for Michigan loss

After the Buckeyes 42-27 at Michigan, a noticeably hoarse Stroud mentioned he had been sick prior to the game.

The flu or something like it going through the OSU locker room in the prior week and been rumored, but the impact has been left mostly up to the imagination.

“It was bad,” Stroud said. “Dudes were dropping out (during the week), missing practice.

“At the end of the day, you gotta go play. No one cares, they didn’t care. We don’t care. At the end of the day you gotta go do a job, but we fell short. I even credit my team, even somewhat of myself, for just even going out there and still playing. We don’t quit, we don’t shy away, we still went out there and we battled. Even if we could do it again, I would do it again, I don’t care. I’d play with one leg, I don’t really mind.”

Head coach Ryan Day was asked about the issue on Sunday but seemed to try to downplay it so it would not be taken as an excuse for the Wolverines’ dominant win.

“We had a lot of guys sick here the last couple weeks, and so we’re getting those guys healthy again,” Day said. “It sounds like loser’s lament when something like that comes up, so it’s not even really worth talking about. It was significant in the game, but that doesn’t really matter.”

Stroud said he remained confident in his team despite the Buckeyes coming up short at Michigan and earlier in the season against Oregon.

“I don’t know what the narrative is and I’m not trying to set the narrative,” Stroud said. “I just know that when it comes down to playing football, I’ll take Ohio State against any team. College football’s weird this year. We lost two games, and I don’t think neither of those teams are better than us, but you gotta give them respect. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about who’s the better team, it’s about who plays better that day.

“When you take into consideration what we were going through that week, preparing for ‘The Team Up North’ and everybody kind of having the flu and things like that…

“Of course I don’t make excuses, but you’ve kind of got to take that into consideration. It kind of does matter. I’ll take Ohio State, I’ll take my brothers against anybody.”

ROSE BOWL

Jan. 1, 2022

Ohio State vs. Utah, 5 p.m., ESPN, 1410

About the Author