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March 8, 2006

Making dad proud

CHICAGO - Miles Stroter is an old fashioned type of guy.

Instead of looking up to some sports superstar or somebody else famous, the 6-foot-5, 329-pound offensive tackle from Chicago King said the most important person in his life is his father, Joseph Stroter.

Stroter admits the admiration of his father might be tough for some kids to understand, but his father has been there with him every step of the way and there is nobody more vital in his success so far on the gridiron and off of it.

"They say father knows best, and they're right," said Stroter on Saturday at the Rivals.com Junior Day at Naperville North High School. "I look up to my dad. Whatever decision I make, he backs. When it was hard on me and coach kept getting on my case, he was asking me if I really wanted to play football. I was like, 'yeah,' so it's not like he forced me to play like some other parents do.

"He pushed the right buttons with me and helped guide me to make the right decisions."

The end result is one of the top prospects for the class of 2007 in the state of Illinois. Stroter, who measured in at 6-foot-5 and 329 pounds at the Junior Day, already has an offer from Illinois and is getting serious interest from most of the Big 10 and from national programs like Miami and USC.

"He looks great in person," Rivals.com Illinois analyst Tim O'Halloran said. "He's a very big kid with minimal body fat. I think he still has his best football in front of him, and he'll be a prospect who should get better and better at the next level.

"Miles' father has worked his tail off for that kid. He took him to almost 10 summer camps last year, and he's taken him all over the country to a bunch of junior days."

Stroter said he's very wide open at this point in the process. After attending Northwestern's junior day last week and Ohio State's a few weeks back, he's scheduled to take in USC's Junior Day on April 2 and he's also going to attempt to take an unofficial visit to Miami during spring break.

Not bad for a kid that didn't play football until he was in the eighth grade.

"I used to play basketball, and I didn't start playing football until my eighth grade year," he said. "I was a big clumsy guy, and then I got to King. Coach Williams changed that all around for me. He just rode me and worked me really hard to make me better."

The end result has been amazing. Now Stroter is poised to become one of the hottest targets in all of Chicago. He's enjoying the limelight and soaking up every bit of the attention, but he also plans to have his father enjoy the success with him all the way to signing day and beyond.

"I like the fact that people want me, and I like the publicity," he said. "I started to really sense that things could turn out special for me last summer when I started killing people at the summer camps. That really gave me a big boost. I wouldn't have gotten that boost if my father hadn't taken me to all those places.

"He'll be proud of me no matter what I do, even if I stop playing football. I want to do well for him and make him even more prouder, though."

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