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Show Me The Money
There was much speculation by Buckeye fans that quarterback CJ Stroud would be returning for another year. Rumors started to spread when the Head of Name, Image, and Likeness, Brian Schottenstein, tweeted that he had some big news. Every Buckeye fan’s gut-wrench reaction was that CJ Stroud was announcing that he was returning for another season with an opportunity to potentially accept a 20-million-dollar NIL deal. However, Schottenstein’s “big news” was the announcement that he and his wife were expecting a baby girl. News that was sure to bring Buckeye fans everywhere was a sign of relief.
Twenty million-dollar NIL deal or not, It would have been surprising to see Stroud return for another year, given his body of work. In his first eleven games this past season, Stroud completed 204 of his 307 pass attempts for 2,991 passing yards tallying 35 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Stroud also broke many passing records at Ohio State, from passing yards in a game 573, to being the first quarterback in program history to throw for six touchdown passes in a game. Although his numbers are impressive, the expectations for an Ohio State quarterback are measured in wins against Michigan, Big Ten titles, and national championships. Given that he has not achieved those things, Stroud’s career at Ohio State will face criticism from Buckeye fans. Regardless Stroud is projected to be a top-five pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and though his Ohio State Football career left a lot to be desired, his work shows he has the talent to be an elite NFL Quarterback.
CJ Stroud and NIL
CJ Stroud has made a name for himself within the NIL landscape. Stroud, along with his teammate wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, signed a NIL partnership deal with Columbus, Ohio-based clothing brand Express. Stroud awarded the entire football team 500 dollar gift cards to purchase suits for gameday. In addition, to his NIL deal with Express, Stroud signed a NIL deal with Canton Ohio based luxury car dealership Sarchione Auto Gallery. As a part of this deal, he was given a Mercedes Benz G-wagon. Further, he has dealt with Designer Shoe Warehouse and Dr. Teal’s, to name a few.
With his extensive NIL portfolio, some believed Stroud would make sense to stay another year and take the rumored 20 million dollar NIL deal. However, according to Nekka Don, a former Ohio State football player, “NIL will change SOME high profile players’ decisions to leave early or not. Especially if the player believes they have unfinished business (a la CJ Stroud), “There’s nothing like locking down that first-round NFL contract, but NIL could alleviate some financial concerns.”
NIL deals can alleviate some financial concerns. However, those football players with high draft grades will almost always turn pro versus staying for NIL money. These athletes spend much time developing their craft to play at the highest level. I do not know CJ Stroud’s financial situation. However, following him throughout his time at Ohio State, it is clear that he has a passion for football and playing the position of quarterback at a high level. With CJ Stroud being a high draft pick, he expected to make nearly 20 million dollars from his potential signing bonus.
Staying for NIL
Football and men’s basketball are sports that I consider anomalies when it comes to athletes deciding to stay because highly touted high school football players leave high school early to join their college teams. This decision is made to expedite the development process and make it to the NFL. Likewise, players leave college after their first year in basketball to play in the NBA. Staying makes sense if you are a part of a sport like professional women’s basketball, where there are issues surrounding equitable pay, then it makes sense for you to make the most of NIL.