Strauder: Anything is possible

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

There were mostly young guys listening intently Friday afternoon when incoming Natchez High head coach Lance Reed had the floor. Except for one veteran off in the distance, a kid who won’t play for the new head coach and won’t be able to take part in the turnaround the new coach is aiming at accomplishing.

But Anthony Strauder listened nonetheless.

The new coach’s speech made the now-ex-Bulldog’s blood get pumping, as it should. Strauder played the last two years for the Bulldogs and got to taste just one win while spending the end of the 2003 season watching from the sideline on crutches.

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But there’s something to be said of Strauder, the 6-4, 275-pound lineman who will play for Mississippi State despite languishing in one of the least successful high school programs from Class 3A on up.

&uot;I like him,&uot; Strauder said. &uot;I wish I had the opportunity to play for him, but my time is up. My best wishes are with him. I’m going to keep up with Natchez. If they rally around him, they’ll be successful in a couple of years.&uot;

The truth of the whole situation is this &045; Strauder is moving on. For starters, he’s recovered from the broken leg he suffered during the end of the regular season and has spent time since then working out and getting prepared to report to Starkville.

Strauder will demonstrate that this on June 5 when he suits up in the annual Mississippi-Alabama High School All-Star game in Mobile, Ala. He was initially picked to play in the classic, but his name got tossed to the side when the injury came.

Fortunately a spot opened up later, and he indicated he was ready to go ahead and suit up.

After that, Strauder will take some classes at Co-Lin during the summer to prepare for enrollment at State while working out on a consistent basis to get ready for two-a-day workouts. State, turns out, will have a new coach as well in Sylvester Croom.

&uot;Coach told me if I come in shape I’ve got a good chance at playing,&uot; Strauder said. &uot;(Croom) is a good man. He’s straight and to the point. He’s not going to beat around the bush.&uot;

You’ll likely be able to find him at the Natchez High weight room each day during the summer, probably alongside the Michael Williams, another player from that 2003 Bulldogs team who went Division I and signed with Southern.

In Strauder’s case, he may sit out this fall as a red-shirt to continue to prepare for football on the next level. Assistant coach Brick Haley has told him he could be suited for either defensive tackle or end since he has the size and quickness to play all four positions up front.

Anything is possible for Strauder, the nephew of former State Bulldog and New Orleans Saint Herman Carroll. It’s the same word he’s trying to pass on to next year’s Natchez High Bulldogs, who has a coach telling them the same thing.

&uot;I don’t think the playoffs are unrealistic,&uot; Strauder said. &uot;That was a goal of mine before I got hurt. Anything is possible.&uot;

Adam Daigle

is sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at (601) 445-3632 or by e-mail at