Yale Athletics

To say that Yale football offensive lineman Sterling Strother ’20 has been a well-accomplished individual, both on and off the field, would be a considerable understatement. Strother is the foremost example of what a collegiate athlete can only hope to achieve in any sport.

The Elis sit at 3–0 thus far this season and Strother continues to be an influential figure both on the gridiron and in the classroom. His competitive, unyielding and tenacious spirit on the field speaks for itself — he has been an All-Ivy League performer two years and counting, an Ivy League Champion and is a projected 2020 NFL Draft pick.

But it is Strother’s exemplary conduct in his community that sets him apart. For several years, he has been hard at work for the Mandi Schwartz Bone Marrow Drive, as well as volunteering as a “Big Sib” for Hopper College and conducting research at the Clinical Affective Neuroscience and Development Lab, a psychology laboratory centered around PTSD in children. For his combined success in his academics and athletics, Strother has recently become a semifinalist for the 2019 Williams V. Campbell Trophy. This award, first awarded in 1989, is presented to the best scholar-athletes in the nation. Strother joins a class of 39 other nominees from the FCS.

“He’s been very involved in a lot of our community projects,” head coach Tony Reno said. “Something that stands out to me is the past three years he’s spent as a member of the Mandi Schwartz Marrow Drive. Probably the biggest impact he’s had has been within the Yale Football family. He’s a very inspiring person as far as everything that we believe is true to who we are, and that’s relationships. Building relationships and being there for your teammates and being able to play for each other — Sterling typifies that day in and day out.”

To begin with Strother’s on-field achievements, it makes sense to first look at his superhuman high school resume. As a two-way offensive and defensive player, the Moraga, California native accumulated 61 tackles — six of which being sacks — in just his senior year alone. When Strother wasn’t earning recognition on San Francisco Chronicle All-Metro, San Jose Mercury All-East Bay and Diablo Foothill Athletic League All-DFAL First-Teams, he was averaging a double-double for his varsity basketball team, earning him three varsity letters in the sport by the time he graduated.

But what made Strother such a stand-out athlete then — a distinct attribute that continues to be an adamant part of his collegiate career — was his drive for intellectual excellence. A NorCal Scholar-Athlete all four years of high school, his abiding drive to serve as an example both on the field as a leader and service in the community truly distinguishes him. However, despite his numerous achievements, he credits the individuals around him as the source of his drive.

“My parents and my teammates are the people I play for every day,” Strother said. “They inspire me to be the best version of myself, whether it’s in the film room, on the field or in the classroom.”

It was Strother’s sophomore year at Yale when he would ultimately take on a vital part of the Bulldog offensive line. After switching from tackle to center during the preseason, Strother started all 10 games and was the cornerstone of an offensive line that guarded the top rushing attack in the Ancient Eight that season, earning him Second Team All-Ivy League honors.

Strother continued to be excellent in his third season for the Blue and White, as he was the epitome of consistency up front for the Bulldogs. As a junior, he started in 10 of Yale’s contests and earned himself All-Ivy Second Team recognition. Strother, along with the rest of the offensive line, helped Yale become the first ranked pass offense and second ranked total offense in the Ivy League in 2018. His steady, reliable presence for all 10 games put him in projections as a 2020 NFL Draft pickup.

His unwavering, dependable presence is not only perceptible on the football field alone, but in the Yale community as well. Strother is a researcher at the Clinical Affective Neuroscience & Development Lab, which utilizes neuroimaging and physiological methods to understand the adolescent brain with the goal of more effectively treating stress-related disorders that can emerge at a young age.

“My face lit up when you brought up Sterling,” linebacker Micah Awodiran ’21 said. “Sterling is one of the best guys I have ever played with. Honestly, he is one of the most loving and caring people I have ever had the pleasure to be around. No matter what the situation is, he can tell if you’re down, whether it’s on or off the field. He wants to reach out to you, he wants to build that connection with you. To also have the skills on the field that ‘wow’ you, he is the ultimate role model from his work ethic to his personality and even his family. The whole Strother family, they’re class acts all the way.”

Strother will next take the field this Saturday at 1:30 p.m. against Dartmouth.


Jared Fel | jared.fel@yale.edu

Eamonn Smith | eamonn.smith@yale.edu

Jared Fel currently serves as a sports staff reporter covering football, baseball, and hockey for the Yale Daily News. Originally from Ossining, New York, he is a rising junior in Saybrook College majoring in Cognitive Science.