17 * Billy Strother * LB * Sr-1L * 6-0 * 230 *Evansville, Ind. (West Hills CC)
NEW MEXICO: Talented, active athlete who became a defensive force and big-time playmaker after stepping into the starting lineup following an injury to Shannon Kincaid in the 2002 season opener...has taken his game to another level in recent weeks...2003 Butkus Award (outstanding linebacker) watch list selection...gained a tremendous amount of experience in 2002 and has gotten stronger in the weight room...has solidified himself as one of the MWC's premier linebackers this fall...also a tremendous special teams player...was given the nickname "Billy Saturday"last year by the UNM training staff...shrugs off injuries and always comes ready to play on gameday.
2003 (SENIOR): Leads the team, averaging 7.7 tackles (77 total - 44 solo) in 10 games, including 8 starts...has 9.5 tackles for a loss of 35 yards, including a 3 sacks, along with a forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries...has also become a feared blocker on the UNM punt return team and has scored a pair of TDs off of blocked punts...UNLV...Made 8 stops, including 1.5 tackles for loss, in 71 snaps...recovered a fumble forced by teammate Zach Rupp and later teamed with Rupp for a 4-yard sack...also added another vicious punt return block...Utah...Finished with 7 tackles (1 TFL) and a QB hurry in 64 snaps...also gave UNM a big momentum lift for the second straight week, gathering Jonathan Harrell's blocked punt and trotting into the endzone from 3 yards out...San Diego State...Made 3 solo tackles, including a 3-yard sack and forced fumble, in just 37 defensive snaps...played only special teams in the first half and returned Hank Baskett's momentum-shifting blocked punt 14 yards for the Lobos' second TD of the night...Strother drew a double team on the play, allowing Baskett a free run to the punter...later in the game, had one of the most devestating hits of the year when he destroyed a SDSU gunner with a crack-back punt return block...Utah State...7 stops (5 solo) and a QB hurry in 47 defensive snaps and 15 specialty plays...New Mexico State...Was all over the field to spark the Lobos to victory...11 tackles, 1TFL, a pass deflection and a critical fumble recovery late in the game to help secure the win...also had a pair of jarring, "de-cleat" crackback blocks in punt return action...61 plays on the night...Washington State...Tremendous game to lead a stalwart defensive effort against the speedy and potent Cougar offense...finished with a career-high 15 tackles (9 solo), including 3 tackles for loss...also had a crunching 10-yard sack and a QB hurry...helped the Lobo defense limit the Cougars to 87 rushing yards, 95.3 under their season average...BYU...6 tackles (5 solo) and 1 TFL in 60 snaps...Texas Tech...Eight tackles, including a half sack (with Zach Rupp) in 49 snaps off the bench...Texas State...6 stops, including 1 TFL, in 49 snaps.
2002 (JUNIOR): Teammates selected him as the Colonel H.J. Golightly Defensive MVP at the UNM football banquet...also voted MWC Defensive Newcomer of the Year by the Las Vegas Review Journal and a Junior College Transfer All-American by JCFootball.com...honorable mention all-MWC selection...two-time MWC Defensive Player of the Week...tied for second on the team with 89 tackles (42 solo)...also had 14 tackles for loss (2nd on team), including 5 sacks, and a blocked punt...3 passes defended, 3 fumble recoveries and 2 fumbles forced...UCLA (Las Vegas Bowl)...turned in another outstanding game, finishing with 7 tackles (3 solo), including 3 for a loss of 16 yards...1.5 sacks on the day, including a sack and forced fumble on UCLA QB Drew Olson...was just inches away from blocking his second punt of the year in the second quarter...helped a tenacious Lobo defense hold the Bruins to just 167 yards, 206 below their season average, and one offensive touchdown...Wyoming...career performance to help UNM shut down a potent Cowboy attack and advance to its first bowl game in 5 years...recorded a career-high 12 tackles (5 solo), including a career-best 3 sacks for a loss of 18 yards...performance garnered MWC Defensive Player of the Week honors for the second time this month...Colorado State...team-high 6 tackles (3 solo)...helped squash a third quarter CSU drive at midfield when he recovered QB Bradlee Van Pelt's fumble...San Diego State...had one of his best games of the year and was rewarded with MWC Defensive Player of the Week honors...made 5 tackles (4 solo stops), including 2 for loss...gave UNM a 7-point cushion late in the 4th quarter with his sack of Aztec QB Adam Hall, who fumbled the ball out of the endzone...later preserved the Lobo victory when he swatted away Hall's pass on 4th-and-2 from the UNM 6-yard line...blocked a punt earlier in the first quarter which led to the Lobos' first score...Utah...just 3 tackles in 52 defensive snaps, but recovered 2 critical second-half fumbles...Utah State...team-high 7 tackles (4 solo), including 1 for loss, in just 50 plays...UNLV...6 tackles in 74 defensive plays...Texas Tech...was a bright spot defensively with 11 tackles (7 solo), including 1 tackle for loss, and 1 pass defended in 99 plays on defense and special teams...New Mexico State...5 tackles (2 solo) and a tackle for loss in 53 defensive plays...Weber State...started for the injured Shannon Kincaid and had a breakout game...logged a game-high 11 tackles, including 1 for a loss of 3 yards...also ran in a recovered fumble 42 yards for a TD after teammate Hebrews Josue lateraled him the ball...N.C. State...called into action on the game's second play after Shannon Kincaid went out with a knee injury...filled in nicely, logging 5 tackles, including 2 for a loss of 3 yards in 51 plays.
WEST HILLS CC: Spent the past two years at West Hills Community College in Coalinga, Calif...outside linebacker who was a two-time first team all-conference selection and second team all-state pick last fall for coach Mark Gritton...had 175 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 10 fumbles recovered, 5 caused fumbles and a blocked punt in his two years with the Falcons...timed at 4.53 in the 40...Billy credits fellow high school teammate Quentin Jackson with his attending West Hills...Strother was not getting any looks out of high school, but Jackson recommended him to the coaching staff at West Hills.
HIGH SCHOOL: A 2000 graduate of Evansville (Ind.) Harrison High...a three-year starter for coach Mitch Marsh...all-state linebacker as a senior...played basketball and also ran track for the Warriors...spent two years as a Peer Mediator where he helped fellow students work out problems.
PERSONAL: Born Jan. 8, 1982, in Evansville...age is 21...full name is William Gregory Strother...son of Diane Tyler...likes to read and write poetry...major is Management.
CAREER HIGHS: Tackles: 15 at Washington State (9/20/03). Tackles For Loss: 3 (3 times). Sacks: 3 vs. Wyoming (11/30/02).
STROTHER CAREER STATS