As Texas fans get a glimpse of their future, Caden Sterns insists he isn’t looking back.
Sterns and fellow freshmen B.J. Foster both nabbed the first interceptions of their collegiate careers in Saturday’s 28-21 win over Tulsa. Before those first-quarter interceptions, Texas last had two true freshmen pick off passes in the same game in 1993 when Chris Carter and Bryant Westbrook pulled off the feat.
Sterns and Foster were foundational pieces in UT’s heralded 2018 recruiting class. Sterns, though, insists that doesn’t matter now. Throw out the 10 recruiting stars between the two of them, Sterns says. Those Hudl highlights? Sterns is more focused now on improving his ball-tracking and tackling abilities.
“All the dudes that came in early weren’t really into the stars, we weren’t into the lights and stuff like that. We just came in wanting to work and try to make an impact early,” Sterns said. “Once you get to college, none of that matters. (It’s) just like re-starting all over again.”
Sterns logged his interception on the game’s first play. Tulsa quarterback Luke Skipper was unable to get the football to an open man that had run deep, and Sterns tracked down the football. The turnover set Texas up at the Tulsa 47 and UT quarterback Sam Ehlinger then capped a three-play drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
Towards the end of the first quarter, Foster went airborne to take away a deep pass intended for Tulsa receiver Keylon Stokes.
The interceptions were bookends in what was a good quarter for UT’s 2018 recruits, who were playing for the first time at Royal-Memorial Stadium. Freshman running back Keaontay Ingram had a 29-yard touchdown run that gave UT a 14-0 lead with 1:58 remaining. Brennan Eagles had a 35-yard catch in the quarter. Cameron Dicker also kicked two extra points, two touchbacks and had a kickoff returned to the Tulsa 16.
“I expect you’re going to see a lot of them for years to come here,” Texas coach Tom Herman later said when asked about Ingram and the two safeties.
Sterns was making his second start of the season. One week after a four-tackle performance against Maryland, he finished with another four stops. The interception was the only statistic compiled by Foster, who came off UT’s bench on Saturday.
“It’s easy to pull those guys under your wings because they’re straight ballers,” senior P.J. Locke III said. “All I do is tell them this: You’ve been playing the same game since you were younger. Nothing’s changed. The competition’s better but you worked your butt off to get here and you’re good enough to sustain that.”
Sterns and Foster both enrolled early at Texas. Their relationship, however, dates back to their participation in Nike’s The Opening event in the summer of 2017.
The two safeties have also created a bond with Anthony Cook and Jalen Green, two defensive backs who also signed with Texas. The freshmen have even created for themselves a satellite campus for DBU: ABS, an acronym that Sterns says stands for America’s Best Secondary.
“(B.J. and I) make each other better,” Sterns said. “The dude is going to be really good, probably one of the best DBs to ever come through here so that drives me.”