And Strauder has accomplished his first goal.
"I got my first degree in exercise science in May of 2007 and I am getting my second degree in December," said Strauder, who graduated in three years.
Thanks to the hard work in academics, he can now put football at the top of his priority list.
"I wanted to work hard when I first got here so that later on in my career I could relax and concentrate on football," said the 6-3, 301-pounder.
And he needs that 100% concentration if he wants to become the player that he can be.
"When I first came to Mississippi State I was a guy who had a lot of talent, but I just never knew how to really play the game," said Strauder.
And not only did he not have an understanding of the game, but he was learning an entirely new position on a diferent side of the ball than he was used to high school.
"My freshman year Coach Croom moved me over to the offensive line and I had never played offense before," said Strauder.
But he adjusted and then everything seem to fall into place his junior season.
"I was really comfortable at first, but, as far as becoming a productive player and possibly a great player, I feel like last year was the big turning point for me," said Strauder. "I really played well, and I feel like this year better things are coming."
And going into his senior season it couldn't have happened at a better time.
"My coach has always stressed that I am a good player but that he expects me to be a great player, an NFL-type player," said Strauder. "I think I am really close to being a great player, but with me it's about being consistent."
He started seeing that consistency last season.
"I was pretty consistent last year, although I had one or two bad games," said Strauder. "I graded over 80% in 11 of the 13 games. I'm a productive player, but Coach Grimes is stressing to me it's time for me to be a dominating player."
And, according to his coach, it's up to Strauder if he wants to become that type player.
"Coach Grimes told me at the end of the spring that I did a good job and that he doesn't expect to have to coach me much," said Strauder. "He said it's all on me on how much I want to be a great player. It's just me putting it together."
"Royce Blackledge was a great leader and Mike Brown was a great player, too," said Strauder. "Mike is going to be a big loss, but I think Derek Sherrod is going to do a great job (at left tackle). (At center) J. C. Brignone is a better athlete and a lot stronger than Royce, but from the standpoint of his fundamentals he has to work on those because Royce was a technician. But J.C. has a lot of talent and I think he will be able to fill in and do a great job for us this year."
And once this year is over, Strauder is optimistic his career will continue on to the next level.
"I still feel like my best years of football are ahead of me," said Strauder. "I only have one more year of college, but I really feel in my heart - and my coaches believe - that I am going to have a shot to play at the next level."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.