C.J. Stroud on winning over Texans’ locker room as a rookie: ‘I think that means a little more’

Houston Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud has never run from competition when it came to the game he has loved since he was a kid. He embraces it and wants to prove to his coaches that he deserves to be under center when the game starts.

During his redshirt freshman At Ohio State, he was in a fierce quarterback battle with three other players, including Quinn Ewers, who had reclassified to play in the Spring for the Buckeyes with a chance to be the starter when the season started.

All four quarterbacks were looking to replace Justin Fields, whom the Chicago Bears had drafted in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day took his time evaluating all his quarterbacks before eventually naming Stroud as the starter in the season opener against the Minnesota Gophers.

After being drafted by the Texans with the No.2 selection in this year’s draft, Stroud had to repeat the process he had at Ohio State all over again as head coach DeMeco Ryans and general manager Nick Caserio did not want to name a regular-season starter, allowing third-year quarterback Davis Mills to retain his starting position.

On Sunday, Ryans made it official after the final preseason game that Stroud would be the starter in Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens.

Winning quarterback battles is easy for the talented 21-year-old from Rancho Cucamonga, California. It is capturing the locker room as a rookie that means more to Stroud than anything.

“Honestly, I think that means a little more,” said Stroud about being recognized as a leader in the locker room. “Something about football, I think everything kind of happens naturally. Like either you’re going to play good, or you’re not. Whatever is going to happen happens. But locker rooms, those are where bonds and brotherhood and things that really mean something to me happen.”

“And I mean, I just came in and was myself and think guys gravitated towards me and got to hang out with a lot of dudes off the field in the locker room and do some things that were awesome group bonding, and I definitely think that’s what makes football special. You got so many dudes from different walks of life to come together to play this amazing sport, and all of us to be in the locker room and sharing the same name. That’s special, man, because it’s hard to do. I don’t think there is any other profession that does that at our scale and has to trust on seeing other guys do their jobs.”

Trust has been the most vital characteristic trait that Stroud has exuded in the locker room and on the field. His teammates have picked up on it from his arrival, and it has carried over throughout training camp and the preseason. Especially his wide receivers, who have developed continuity with him over the few months they have worked together.

“Growth,” said third-year wide receiver Nico Collins about Stroud after the preseason game against the New Orleans Saints. “Each day, he is just growing. We are all doing it step-by-step we are all growing as an offense, as a unit, and as a team. We just feel that energy; we are there for each other and can’t wait for the season.”

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire