The 6-5/260 OT earned 1st team All-DFAL honors for the Cougars as a junior in 2014 and is primed for a strong senior season, starting with off-season workouts and the rising senior camp circuit, beginning with Rivals camp this Sunday in Las Vegas.
The Bears were Strother's second offer and the offer made a big impression on the 3 star OT, particularly on the academic end of the equation with his stellar academic credentials, including a 4.1 cumulative weighted gpa and 4.3 fall semester course load.
"Academics are by far the biggest factor in my decision and Cal being the #1 public university in the nation is extremely important to me," said Strother.
With Cal being just a short 20 minute ride through the Caldecott Tunnel from Moraga, the talented lineman can easily make the short drive to Berkeley, starting with this weekend's Junior Day at Cal.
"I've had the chance to go over to Cal with friends to catch some football and basketball games," said Strother. "I'm really looking forward to being able to get over there more often now, especially for their Junior Day on February 21st. I'll be able to really take a look at everything and spend time with the staff, incuding the new line coach, Coach Jones, after coming over from ECU. I'm really looking forward to all that."
The Bears' offer followed an offer from a familiar name -new Kansas offensive line coach Zach Yenser, who left Cal (and his home in Moraga) in January to join former Cal receivers coach -and now offensive coordinator- Rob Likens in the Jayhawks' rebuilding efforts in Lawrence.
"Coach Yenser's an outstanding man," said Strother. "I haven't known him that long but I can already tell he's in the business to develop great young men, as well as football players and I have a lot of respect for him. Now with him going to Kansas, it's kind of turned into two offers, from both Kansas and Cal."
Strother's Campolindo Cougars had a memorable season in 2014, running the gauntlet for an undefeated 16-0 season, culminating in an unlikely 28-point 4th quarter comeback to shock El Capitan in their 35-28 victory in the 2A State Championship in the Stub Hub Center in Carson in December.
"That was definitely the most incredible experience I've ever been a part of," said Strother. "It all started in the summer or even the winter before. Our guys have been the tightest group of guys I've ever been around, in sports or anything else.
"We had some standout guys like Tyler Petitte (USC signee) and Nick Fadelli that will be playing at the next level but what really made that team special was how tight we were and how we were able to come together to a cohesive unit and stick together in times of hardship and difficulty, like in the state championship when we were down 28-7 late in the game.
"Another thing that made that game special for us was dedicating the win to our former athletic director, Bob Wilson. My junior class and the senior class above me were the last classes to play for Coach Wilson before he retired (for health reasons). What he did -more importantly as a person than as a coach- he taught all of us the elements of brotherhood; trust, integrity -really the building blocks for that team. You can't put into words how much credit should be given to him.
"After our NCS section championship game, we visited him at his house. We were only going to have a couple of our players go in, like our captains, but he brought everybody into his living room. He told us he knew we were going to do it and win a state title.
"Being able to see him rally and gather that strength and passion for us and the game was really inspiring."
Wilson lost his battle with cancer just days before the championship game (to read more on Wilson's legacy, click here
), leaving the players with a mix of emotions, ranging from sadness to an inspiration to fulfil Wilson's dream of a state championship for his beloved Cougars.
"Sterling's a straight-A student, which combined with his athletic ability should make him very attractive to Cal," said Campolindo head coach Kevin Macy. "He's been a basketball player his whole life but he didn't play this year so he could devote himself to football and weightlifting. He's put 20 lbs on recently and has a great frame to get bigger and stronger.
"He's really been groomed for success, whether academically, athletically, musically and in many other ways.
"It would be great to see Cal keep him in the Bay Area."