Feb. 20, 2004
Jimmy Streater, the aptly-named "Sylva Streak" befitting his North Carolina heritage and his ability to leave tacklers in his wake on the gridiron, died at 9:15 a.m. Friday, Feb. 20, 2004, at the Blue Ridge Rehabilitation and Health Center in Asheville. He was 46, born Willis James Streater III Dec. 17, 1957.
Quarterback at Tennessee from 1976-79 and a scrambler in the Condredge Holloway mold, Streater left the university as the leader in career total offense (4,807 yards), career passing yards (3,433) and single-season total offense (2,011 yards). He also hooked up on the longest touchdown pass at that time, hitting Anthony Hancock on an 85-yarder against Vanderbilt in 1979.
"I am deeply saddened to hear of Jimmy Streater's death," said Johnny Majors, former Tennessee head coach during Streater's career. "He was one of the best athletes I coached in my entire career. More importantly, I loved Jimmy Streater as a person. He was such a great competitor. He had a great nature about him and was always extremely upbeat. He was a self-starter. You never had to ask him to hustle.
"He was extremely loved by his fellow teammates, coaches and friends. I knew his entire family and knew he had been through some tough times. When I last saw him, he had that pleasant countenance and genuine friendliness that endeared him to everyone he knew."
On one glorious afternoon in November his senior season, Streater led a 40-18 win over Notre Dame at Neyland Stadium. He had a 48-yard pass, a 51-yard run and a 5-yard scoring run on an option to total 141 yards of total offense.
He was selected All-SEC in 1979 and was named the AP and UPI Back of the Week and UPI Southeast Offensive Player of the Week for his performances against Utah and Auburn. He had three touchdown passes and a touchdown run against Utah and two scoring runs and a touchdown pass in a victory over Auburn. He was a co-captain of the 1979 team along with defensive back Roland James and linebacker Craig Puki. He was a 1980 CFL free agent selection of the Toronto Argonauts, playing from 1980-81.
"It's a tremendous loss for both the state of Tennessee and North Carolina," said Heath Shuler, who started at quarterback for Tennessee from 1992-93 and grew up in nearby Swain County, N.C., idolizing Streater. "Jimmy was in every sense a legend. Everyone knew who Jimmy Streater was. When I got to Tennessee and actually got to see tape of his games, I was amazed like everyone else. Meeting him and hearing his testimony to Christ in his final years was very inspiring."
Streater's brother, Eric, praised his sibling's life and example. "My friends had heroes like Reggie Jackson and Walter Payton," said Eric, one of three siblings who survive Jimmy, along with parents, James and Shirley Streater. "My hero sat across from me at the dinner table. People used to say that he was so fast and smooth that the grass didn't move when he ran. Today, our family knows that Jimmy is running again and everyone in heaven wants him on their team, like the kids did when we were growing up in Sylva."
Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time, with Moody Funeral Home in Sylva
In charge of arrangements.