C.J. Stroud knows this will come across cliché and maybe even a bit contrived but headed in to the Elite 11 last month his primary focus was on being a better person.
“I always start there,” Stroud said. “That’s just how I am. More than anything I wanted to learn; I wasn’t focused on anything but that.”
The focus redirection of sorts helped Stroud relax and ultimately leave with the MVP trophy at the prestigious event, which featured the vast majority of the country’s top quarterbacks.
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And, no, Stroud doesn’t mind admitting that he wasn’t on most people’s shortlist to leave with the hardware.
“I don’t think anyone thought that,” Stroud said. “All of the top quarterbacks were there, and I wasn’t ranked as high at the time. I blocked everything out and concentrated on getting better. Now here we are.”
From a social media follower surge to extra attention when he’s out at the local mall to an increase in offers from Power Five conferences, Stroud contends that “life has changed a whole lot.”
“It’s amazing how six days can change your whole life,” said Stroud, who is ranked No. 18 in USA Today Sports’ Chosen 25. “It’s been a true blessing and an honor. I have even signed a few autographs. I’m still getting used to it all, but I love it.”
Since Elite 11, Auburn, Texas A&M, Ohio State, Penn State and Georgia have all upped their pursuit of the 6-foot-3 pro-style quarterback. Stroud picked up what he referred to as a “dream offer” from Oregon on Tuesday along with an offer from San Diego State.
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Stroud visited Baylor two weeks ago and has plans to visit Ohio State, Oregon, Auburn and Penn State.
“They told me they are gonna be watching me this season,” said Stroud, who wants to decide on a college by December. “I don’t look at it as pressure; I love this game and I’m confident in what I can do.”
Makes sense for a player who threw for more than 2,500 yards, 20 touchdowns and completed 65 percent of his passes for Rancho Cucamonga (California) High School despite missing three games with an injury.
The numbers are even more impressive when you consider that it was Stroud’s first season as a starter.
“Most of the top quarterbacks have been starting since like eighth or ninth grade,” Stroud said. “I’m still growing and getting better, and I feel like this is gonna be a big year. Obviously, after winning the Elite 11 MVP there’s a lot more attention on me now, but I feel like I’m ready to handle it. I’ve been proving myself my whole career; that just makes me hungrier.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY