C.J. Stroud, the prize rookie for the Houston Texans, continues to gain national attention, and for good reason. The former Ohio State Buckeye, who was taken with the second overall pick in this year’s draft, has not only been good, he has played himself into the MVP conversation.
That is rarified air for a rookie quarterback, and while he may be a long shot, he is definitely trending upward in terms of being considered among the NFL’s elite signal callers. Stroud’s poise, accuracy, high-level processing ability, and creativity under pressure have turned around one of the most moribund franchises in the NFL in short order.
The young quarterback’s most recent moment came last Sunday against arguably the hottest team in the league, the Cincinnati Bengals. Facing one of the top defenses in the league in a sold-out Paycor Stadium, all Stroud did was go a sizzling 23-39-356 with a touchdown.
However, his most impressive stretch of play came after the one mistake he made that almost cost them the game. After throwing a late interception that set up the Bengals game-tying late field goal, Stroud got the ball back with 1:33 left on the clock and promptly drove the team to a game-winning field goal as time expired.
The most appealing aspect of C.J. Stoud might be off the field, however. While many athletes his age would be preening and basking in the limelight, Stroud is always sure to stay humble and give thanks to God for all he has been blessed with.
Considering this is an era when it isn’t particularly fashionable to be a Christian, Stroud’s confessions of faith are even more endearing. After the game Sunday, Stroud opened up about his faith journey. He said: “For me, it’s a lot of prayer. A lot of knowing that God wouldn’t put anything on me that I can’t handle. I don’t deserve His grace and His mercy, but He still gives it to me, and I love Him for that. It’s not about me. It’s about Him and His glory. So I think that’s where it comes from. I think God made me like that.”
Art often imitates life, and football at the highest level is certainly an art form unto itself. Stroud treats salivating edge rushers with blood in their eyes the same way he handles off-the-field obstacles life throws at him: with poise.
He continued: “I’ve been through a lot. Not only in football but things that made me chill when everything is going crazy. And I thank God for putting that (in) me because that’s something that you need playing in this position — is lead. That defense over there they didn’t blink even though they were giving up big playsThey knew it would come down to the wire — we knew that too.”
Success in the NFL, particularly at the quarterback position, requires a calm demeanor, a short memory, and an ability to find an inner calm when everything is breaking down around you. Stoud possesses all of that and more.
Stroud talked about how his faith affects his approach to a long season: “It’s what’s kept me grounded even through my season. Football has a lot of ups and downs, it has a lot of twists and turns, but at the end of the day, it’s all about your foundation. And something that’s set my foundation is my faith. It’s something I’m not perfect in, but I try to work everyday to be better, and I definitely think that’s what saved me. If it helps encourage anybody to help them in their lives, whatever they’re going through, then I’m all for it.”
The Houston Texans have found their guy and the NFL has found its most likable young star that could become the face of the league. If the Texans continue their Cinderella story and Stroud wins league MVP, that could happen sooner rather than later.
Featured image screen grab from embedded YouTube video
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