July 6, 2012
Strauser's athleticism a big strength
John Strauser is 6-foot-4 and nearly 240 pounds - big enough that he could grow into a college defensive tackle - but he plays middle linebacker at his small high school in Champaign.
"He's got good lateral speed, good closing speed on a ball-carrier. That's what a lot of people saw out of him playing the middle linebacker," said Dan Hennessey, coach at High School of St. Thomas More. "He's tough to block. Being that big, he's very physical with opposing guards or even tackles that come out and try to get them. He just sheds their blocks and is really pretty good at it."
Strauser, listed as an athlete by Rivals.com, might do so at a different position for the Boilermaker. He was recruited primarily as a defensive end/outside linebacker, perhaps with ideal size and athleticism to be a hybrid as the Boilermakers look to vary their fronts.
Although he's penciled in there now, Strauser's shown versatility at St. Thomas, playing all three positions on the offensive line during his career, plus fullback; and this season, Hennessey says Strauser's likely to primarily be a tight end on St. Thomas' offense.
"He's probably one of the best all-around players we've had," Hennessey said. "He can pretty much play anywhere you put him.
"If he goes to the D-end spot, he's got long arms, which you need as a D-end: use those big, long arms to swim the block or get away from the guards, tackles or tight ends who are blocking you. A linebacker, he's got the good lateral speed to be a 3-4 player, either on the inside or outside."
Strauser chose the Boilermakers late last month, picking them over finalist Pitt, along with offers from Illinois, Army, Northern Illinois and others. Hennessey said Strauser was wowed during a summer unofficial visit.
"When he went there and came back, all he said to me was 'They just moved way up the ladder,'" Hennessey said. "And I said 'That's good; good for you.'
"He really loved the campus; he liked the whole package: the academic side, which is really important to John, and the athletic too."
Strauser will come to Purdue from an athletic background, to say the least.
"That's putting it mildly," Hennessey said.
The commitment's father and grandfather played for the University of Wisconsin; he also has two uncles who coach: Paul Chryst is the head coach at Pitt, while Geep Chryst is the quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers.
One brother, Matt, played for Princeton, although a back injury cut short his career, while other, David, plays at Penn.
And Strauser's mom was an all-state track performer in Wisconsin.
The genes have helped turn Strauser into a BCS-level prospect.
"He plays all gears, even in practice, he doesn't slow down for anything," Hennessey said. "He's quite the player."
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