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The Cat's Eye

The Cat's Eye

The Cat's Eye

From RCHS alumni to NFL Pro Bowler: CJ Stroud cements a remarkable rookie year
CJ Stroud after Texans 39-37 win in game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week nine of the 2023-2024 NFL season. Photo courtesy of

The 2023-2024 NFL season was full of surprises. With the Chiefs unexpectedly winning the Super Bowl, to the Cowboys being eliminated into the first round of the playoffs, the 2023-2024 season will be one to remember. One highlight from the season was RCHS alumni CJ Stroud being drafted, and then proving himself to be a quality NFL player in his rookie season.

CJ Stroud during warmups at RCHS before the game. (Courtesy of Terry Pierson: The Press-Enterprise)

Stroud grew up locally in Rancho Cucamonga and is the youngest of his three siblings. When he got to high school, he showed promising talents in football and basketball. He was on varsity football all four years of his high school career, and his senior year was his best, with him scoring 47 passing touchdowns, while throwing for 3,878 yards. 

Stroud’s former head coach Mark Verti exclaimed his thoughts about Stroud’s successful NFL start.

“He just continues to get better and better,” Verti said. “It is nothing new, but it’s amplified with each level, and it is really exciting.”

Stroud showed great skill in his position, which led him to receive multiple offers from different colleges. He then committed to the Ohio Buckeyes his senior year. In the two years of him starting for the Buckeyes, Stroud threw for 85 touchdowns, with 8123 passing yards. In his college career, he was named Second-team All-American, a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist, and Big Ten’s Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year. While Stroud never won a state championship with the Buckeyes, he is still reclaimed as one of the greatest Ohio State football quarterbacks to ever play.

After his junior year with the Buckeyes, Stroud declared for the 2023 NFL draft. He had an impressive draft workout and was ultimately picked second overall, by the Houston Texans. Being the second overall pick, Stroud had a lot of expectations, but he soon exceeded them throughout the season. 

His best game last season was against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where the Texans won 39-37. He broke the rookie passing yards in a game record with 470 and also tied the single-game record for most touchdowns thrown by a rookie quarterback with five. 

After ending the season with 23 passing touchdowns and 4,108 passing yards, the Texans ended up in the playoffs for the first time since 2019. In the Wild Card Round against the Cleveland Browns, Stroud threw for three passing touchdowns, and the Texans ended up winning 45-14, in a game many believed the Browns would win because of their strong defense. 

He just continues to get better and better. It is nothing new, but it’s amplified with each level, and it is really exciting.”

— Mr. Mark Verti, RCHS history teacher and former varsity football coach

The Texan’s last matchup was against the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL Divisional Round. The Texans lost against the NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, in a game score of 10-34. Despite losing in the Divisional, the Texans exceeded all expectations by making it to the playoffs in the first place and winning a playoff game.

Stroud won the Offensive Rookie of the Year reward, which proved him to be the best quarterback in his draft, and best rookie overall. Along with the OROY, he earned his first Pro Bowl selection as a rookie.

Current Defensive Coordinator Mr. Moui Fifita believed that Stroud was going to have a successful start to his NFL career. 

“Great start, unbelievable, just what he’s been able to accomplish in his rookie year,” said Fifita. “He hasn’t surprised me, or those who at least know his work ethic are not surprised by his success, we knew he’d be great.”

Stroud has a promising future, and with the offseason additions of running back Joe Mixon and All-Pro receiver Stefon Diggs, the Texans are expected to be a very intimidating team for the upcoming NFL season. 


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About the Contributor
Joshua Sun
Joshua Sun, Staff Reporter

Joshua Sun is a senior at Rancho Cucamonga High School, and this is his first year in journalism. Sun is a Staff Reporter and has joined journalism because of his interest in a future career as a Sports Analyst, with hopes to report Major league sports games. Even though he doesn’t play any sports, Sun still developed a passion, especially for basketball. Outside school, Sun enjoys hanging out with his friends, working, and playing bass guitar.

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