In the most recent Longhorn Extra feature done by Longhorn Network, Lowell Galindo sat down with Texas Longhorns safety Caden Sterns to reflect on his freshman season and look ahead at what’s next.
A remarkable season for the first-year safety earned him freshman All-American and Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors. Sterns started in 13 of 14 games for the Longhorns, he totaled over 60 tackles, recorded four interceptions, and blocked a field goal returned for a score against USC to highlight his year. Despite all the accomplishments and awards, Sterns is as humble as they get.
On being named a freshman All-American, Sterns said, “It’s obviously an honor, but at the same time that’s not really my goal. In general, it’s to help the team win and be the best that I can be.” Sterns credited defensive back teammates Brandon Jones, P.J. Locke, and B.J. Foster for helping him earn the honor — “without them i’m not a freshman All-American.”
After being named a starting safety weeks before the season started, the expectations surrounding Sterns were quite high for someone that hadn’t played a collegiate snap yet. But, the nation got a dose of the special talent right away. In the month September at home — Sterns notched his first career interception against Tulsa, blocked a field goal against USC, and had two interceptions against TCU.
Sterns mentioned creating plays and becoming a playmaker as his favorite moments from the season.
Despite the strong freshman season, Sterns gave himself a B/B- grade for it. Why? Well, he knows his best football is well ahead of him — “I feel like I have so much more in me. I know i’m not near my peak and what I can really do yet.”
While a lot of players tend to set specific goals for their upcoming seasons, Sterns’ main focus is on having fun with the game of football, regardless of the labels and the trophies. This tends to help him play more loose and limits any distractions on-the-field.
“I’m very hard on myself. But as I talk to my brother and people that have played the game more — I’m understanding to just have fun, be present with it, and not concern with it because it’s just a game.”
With defensive starters including Gary Johnson, P.J. Locke, Kris Boyd, and Davante Davis now gone, Sterns will have to take on a bigger leadership role this season. On taking that next step as a leader, he said, “I’m more of a lead by example kind of guy. Like knowing the defense, getting dudes where they need to be, and bringing more guys in to watch film. Getting everyone together and on the same page with the right mindset is key.”
Someday, Sterns may bring the Jim Thorpe Award trophy back home to Austin where it belongs. On what it’s like to have the 2005 Jim Thorpe Award winner Michael Huff on the sidelines teaching him the ropes, “Chills. It’s a blessing to have Huff with us, he’s like a big brother to us. He knows what he’s talking about and what it takes to do it. You can’t do nothing but listen.”