State’s Strauder nominated for academic award

Published 12:16 am Sunday, October 19, 2008

Starkville — Anthony Strauder wants to be a role model for Natchez area kids.

The Mississippi State offensive lineman got another chance to be just that when he became a semi-finalist for the 2008 Draddy Trophy.

The trophy, which is awarded by the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame, is awarded to a student athlete who shows outstanding football ability while maintaining a 3.2 GPA or above. The winner must also embody strong leadership and citizenship.

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“I try my best to be a role model,” Strauder said. “If a little kid looks at what I did, hopefully he thinks, ‘Hey, I can do better.’”

Strauder, a three-year starter on the Natchez High defensive line, recorded 40 tackles and five sacks in his senior season at Natchez, despite missing five games with a broken leg.

He started in 30 games and played in 35 as a left offensive guard for State in his first four seasons, all while earning a double major in exercise science and business.

“That doesn’t happen a whole lot for anybody. That doesn’t happen for normal students usually,” said State offensive line coach J.B. Grimes. “And you’re talking about a young man who — my son is a college athlete — so I know how much time it takes to be a college athlete. It’s a very time-consuming affair. This is a testament to his dedication.”

Strauder earned his first degree in August 2007 and has two classes left to get the second degree in December.

“When I came here I had a few hours from high school, and I took a couple classes the first summer before I came here, at Co-Lin (Community College),” Strauder said. “School is a year-round thing for us football players. We’re here every summer, and we go both terms.”

Strauder hopes to attend physical therapy school at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

He said he hopes his mother and two sisters are proud of him.

“My mom, she’s a hardworking lady, a single parent, and she always drove hard and pushed to do the best for herself and for me and my two sisters.”

Strauder said the award nomination shows that he has worked hard and handled his business both on and off the field.

He appreciates the recognition, he said, although he really had no choice.

“Leaving here without a degree was not an option,” he said.

Grimes said although State players are not nominated for many football awards, he is not surprised that Strauder would be in the running for a trophy like this.

Strauder, he said, has always been a hard-working student and athlete.

“There’s two ‘abilities’ that I look for in my players — eligibility and availability,” Grimes said. “He’s both. I tell these guys, ‘There’s only two lists I want you to show up on, the first list and the Dean’s list. I don’t want you on the bad lists, like you’re late for a meeting or missed practice.’ He’s not shown up on any of those other lists.”

Though the Bulldogs have not had the best record in the Southeastern Conference over the past few years, a turn-around is starting, one that Strauder said he is happy to be a part of.

Even if that means a little ribbing from his teammates.

“They kind of pick on me, they call me a nerd and stuff,” he said. “But it’s all fun and games.”

The Draddy Trophy finalists will be announced Oct. 29 and will be awarded an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship, and the winner will be announced Dec. 9 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York.

The winner will receive an addition $25,000 scholarship and a 25-lb. bronze trophy.

Strauder was named a preseason All-Southeastern Conference player and is a four-time appointee All-SEC Academic list.

“Where he’s come from, its not easy,” Grimes said of Strauder. “It’s those little steps right there that you take that help kids like (him). Down the road maybe it will affect some other guys and young ladies from that community to get a college degree.”