C.J. Stroud and Jack Miller figure to fight it out someday to be the starting quarterback at Ohio State.
For now, the two freshmen are happy to be friends.
“I’m gonna be friends with all my teammates no matter what,” said Miller, a 247Sports Composite four-star prospect from Phoenix, Ariz. “Now obviously we’re competing for the same thing, but it’s a friendly competition. We’re friends and we’re cool. Like, there’s not a beef as people would say.”
Stroud, a composite four-star recruit from California, agreed with that assessment when the early enrollees in Ohio State’s 2020 recruiting class met with reporters last week.
“Most definitely,” Stroud said. “Me and Jack, we go out to eat all the time. We chill with (classmates) Trey Leroux and Paris Johnson. We hang out in the dorms. Me and Jack watched the whole Super Bowl together. It’s just little things that people don’t see.”
That said, Stroud didn’t take issue with the way their situation is being framed in the media as the pair embark on their college careers.
After all, only one player typically gets the nod as the No. 1 quarterback, and Ohio State last signed two quarterbacks in the same class five years ago.
“I understand,” Stroud said. “This is not normal. I totally understand how people from the outside perspective see it and how it would be portrayed. I respect everybody’s decision and everybody’s opinion. I just let those things handle themselves.”
Ohio State has signed a pair of quarterbacks in the same class only four times since 1999, though each time produced either a national champion (Craig Krenzel and Cardale Jones in 2002 and ’14, respectively), a Heisman Trophy (Troy Smith) or both (Joe Burrow, albeit at LSU).
While their stories are just beginning to be written, Stroud and Miller are both looking forward to working with Ohio State head coach Ryan Day.
“I wanted to be developed not just for this level only but the next level as well,” said Stroud, who chose Ohio State in December. “That’s one of my goals is to be able to play in the NFL one day and I think coach Day is definitely somebody who can help me get there.
“I think that he has the best offensive mind in college football. And I think that just learning from him over these next three to four years it’s just going to be a blessing and I’m going to learn so much.”
While Stroud was a late addition to the 2020 class, Miller was one of the first.
He committed to Ohio State in July 2018 when Urban Meyer was still head coach and stuck with the Buckeyes through the transition from Meyer to Day and three changes at quarterbacks coach.
He said he never batted an eye at the recruitment of Stroud, either, especially with the need to add depth in the quarterback room after Tate Martell and Matthew Baldwin transferred last year.
“I really enjoy competition and I mean it’s best Ohio State,” Miller said. “I’ve been committed here for two years and I really never wavered. I never really thought about going anywhere else and just have always known this was the place for me.”
Both quarterbacks said the Ohio State offense bears similarities to what they did in high school.
“The only difference is really there’s a lot of side adjustments and different things that we can do depending on coverages and stuff like that,” Miller said. “So, that’s really the major thing is just knowing and making sure everybody’s on the same page of what’s going on.”
“It’s very similar,” he said. “A lot of the things they’re asking me to do here, I’ve done in high school. So you’ve already seen the offense, and I think they are going to tailor it to me.”
READ MORE: QB carousel continues to turn at Ohio State
So far, Day likes what he has seen.
“I think they both started off really well,” the coach said on National Signing Day before noting their competition would be the same even if they were not in the same class.
“They’re still going to have the same reps,” Day said. “They’re still going to compete the same way. And it’s okay to have really good quarterbacks in a room together in an offense that’s exciting, and we’re going to keep developing quarterbacks the way we have. I know that’s a huge part of why they’re here.
“And regardless of how it all plays out for either of them, they’re going to get developed at a high level. They’re going to be exposed to a high level of offense and they’re going to be coached the way that they want. And they get a chance to compete against really good players. And they get a chance to sit in there with Justin and see what it’s like to be around a Heisman Trophy finalist and be in an offense that has two Heisman Trophy finalists in the last two years. That’s part of it. And regardless they’ll keep growing year after year.”
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