DeShon Elliott may be making plays for the Baltimore Ravens now, but Texas Longhorns safety Caden Sterns is ready to step into his place in more ways than one.
Not only is the former consensus five-star prospect set to take over Elliott’s starting role next to junior safety Brandon Jones, he’s also been working on Elliott’s signature Joker celebration in practice:
And Elliott, for his part, approves of the youngster’s plan, with one key admonition that echoed that of Kris Boyd:
Elliott popularized the celebration last season during a breakout junior campaign that included 63 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and six interceptions. with 127 return yards on those six picks, Elliott also scored two touchdowns to earn recognition as a Thorpe Award finalist and unanimous first-team All-American.
Late in the season, even his teammates wanted to get involved with his celebrations — check out Malcolm Roach after Elliott’s touchdown return against Baylor:
Deshon Elliott's celebration after big plays is contagious. Malcolm Roach wanted to be a part of it after Elliott's pick 6 at Baylor. pic.twitter.com/XYan0ei7pe— Shawn Clynch (@ShawnC_KVUE) October 29, 2017
“Everybody loves Batman, everybody loves the Joker,” Antwuan Davis said last year. “Every once in a while, it’s okay to be the good bad guy, as we put it.”
Now Sterns is next in line to become the bad guy thanks for his playmaking ability and quick grasp of the defense thanks to the fact that he was an early enrollee this spring. What Sterns has done is remarkable — when he steps onto the field with the first-team defense against Maryland, he’ll become the first defensive back to start his first game as a true freshman since Blake Gideon in 2008.
As much as Sterns may want to make that big play in order to debut his version of Elliott’s celebration, the biggest key will be avoiding mistakes.
“That’s a lot of thinking back there at that position, and just a lot of communication,” defensive coordinator Todd Orlando said last week. “When you’re a young guy coming into it especially with vets that have played in the system, you can be a little hesitant. He’s taken over.”
Sterns certainly has taken over, in multiple ways.