The best example of University of Charleston receiver Mike Strachan’s dominance in the Mountain East Conference may come from a trio of numbers.
The redshirt junior has 15 touchdown catches this season. The next closest wideout in the MEC has nine. No one else has more than six.
Despite every defense he faces knowing he’s the top target in the Golden Eagles passing game, Strachan continues to top the nation at his position. West Virginia State will be the next team to attempt to slow him down when the Golden Eagles (5-3, 4-3 MEC) and the Yellow Jackets (6-2, 6-1 MEC) square off at 11 a.m. Saturday in Institute.
Along with leading the MEC in receiving yards (1,060 and 132.5 per game) and touchdowns, Strachan is also second in NCAA’s Division II in receiving yards and No. 1 in touchdowns.
Football is in the Freeport, Bahamas, native’s DNA. His father, Jerome Strachan, was a wide receiver at Bethune-Cookman University in Florida.
“We just knew that was the road I wanted to take from birth,” Strachan said. “[My father] had been through it all. He’s been through the insides and outs of the game, so he would teach me what he knows. He’d teach me his experiences.”
Strachan played his high school football at Liberty Christian Academy in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he caught the eye of UC coaches. Charleston coach Pat Kirkland appreciated the lanky 6-foot-5 wideout’s speed, as Strachan also stood out in track at the school.
When he got to Charleston in 2016, though, Strachan learned that speed couldn’t be the only weapon in his arsenal.
“He was a track kid playing football,” Kirkland said. “We knew he’d take a little bit of work, but we knew we had a really good athlete. He’s a very, very coachable young man.
“The takeoff and the explosiveness was all there. It was more or less understanding that, when you’re a receiver, you’ve got to know what your coverage is, what your leverage is, because that’s what sets up your route.”
Two things helped Strachan’s growth, Kirkland said. First, Strachan studied plenty of film to learn the nuances of the position. Also, in his younger years at UC, he’d line up every practice against some of the top defensive backs in the MEC, like Cedric Amadi and Jonte Pooler. And when those guys got the best of a receiver, they didn’t hesitate to let that receiver know it.
So part of Strachan’s motivation, aside from the challenge of solving defensive backs of that caliber, was to quiet them down a little bit with some big plays of his own.
“I learn from my mistakes,” Strachan said. “So if a DB gets me one time, the first thing I think is I’ve got to get them back the next time. And I’ll do you more than you do me.”
Strachan’s breakout season came in 2018, when he finished second in the MEC with 1,007 receiving yards, led the league with a gaudy 21 yards per catch and scored eight touchdowns. He was named to the All-MEC first team.
In 2019, his yards per catch dipped to a still-impressive 15.8, but he has blown past all those other numbers.
But those numbers aren’t what fuels him, at least not in an individual sense. His pride comes from the way his talents help the UC offense as a whole. He said his accomplishments don’t come without the skill shown by the rest of the Charleston receiving corps, quarterback Brant Grisel or the UC offensive line.
“I’m more proud of the way the guys look at me,” Strachan said. “I’m more of a team player and I do whatever I can to help my team win. I just like being a role model for others. That’s what I’m proud of, doing what I do and shining for the team.”