Being productive at home, far from your workplace, is a state of mind, as Texas safety Caden Sterns will attest.
Just because spring football has been canceled doesn’t mean the Longhorns aren’t getting better.
Granted, video preparation isn’t the same as being on the field. Still, every day on Zoom is another chance to learn the defense and study together as a team, Sterns figures.
“The biggest thing that allows you to play fast is your mind,” Sterns said Tuesday. “You can go out there and run a 4.2, but if you’re second-guessing yourself and hesitating, that 4.2 turns into a 4.6 real quick.”
Just because the weight room’s closed doesn’t mean you can’t get stronger. “Regardless of what you have, milk cartons or bricks,” Sterns said strength coach Yancy McKnight will find something to make you better.
Just because you aren’t even in Austin doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference. Sterns knows this firsthand, too.
The Cibolo resident is one of several San Antonio-area athletes who organized a push to raise awareness for the San Antonio Food Bank. That entity drew national headlines when the San Antonio Express-News published photos of the heartbreaking amount of people lined up in the parking lot.
“San Antonio, man, I love the city so much,” Sterns said in a Zoom call with reporters. “There’s a lot of people out there really struggling, and they need a helping hand. It is only right, really, to be over there helping them out.”
With Brandon Jones headed to the Miami Dolphins, Sterns becomes the de facto leader of the UT secondary. In 22 career games, “The Wolf” has 120 tackles, four interceptions and nine deflections. But that’s not why he’ll likely be named a team captain whenever the season begins.
Sterns battled a host of injuries last season but refused to relent. First, there was an ankle injury during preseason practice. Then a sprained ligament kept him out almost a month. He suffered a rib injury late in the season but still had eight tackles in the Alamo Bowl win over Utah.
Banged up or bruised, the Horns were better whenever Sterns was on the field.
“You know, Caden is a good example of a guy that can make somebody else better around them or make a handful of guys better around them,” former UT defensive coordinator Todd Orlando said in November.
At least players aren’t getting themselves hurt during this coronavirus stoppage. Here in early May, Sterns said he feels “100%.”
“I’ve been on top of everything,” he said. “When I was younger, I wasn’t probably the best at doing recovery and didn’t understand it as much. I’ve been on it. I feel great.”
So now, he’s focused on helping whoever he can, be it other Longhorns or those in need.
“It’s been challenging, but right now at the same time, safety is the most important thing, I feel like,” Sterns said. “I’d rather do it this way if it ensures everybody being safe. But I feel confident in this team that we have a lot of self-starters.”
The San Antonio Food Bank requested at least six million pounds of food in the form of pre-packaged boxes from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. The Express-News reported that workers and volunteers were distributing meals for about 120,000 people per week.
Sterns, UT offensive lineman Derek Kerstetter, other San Antonio-area athletes and people from the San Antonio Spurs organization have all pitched in. Texas coach Tom Herman, his wife Michelle and quarterback Sam Ehlinger have all donated money and time to the Central Texas Food Bank as well.
Meanwhile, Sterns and his teammates are looking forward to the upcoming season. The smart play is to ignore the chatter about a delayed season or even a spring season.
Whenever it begins, the Longhorns are expecting big contributions. ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. is already projecting Sterns to be one of the top available safeties in the 2021 draft, should he choose to leave school early.
“We’re treating it as if I have a season. There’s no other way to go about it,” Sterns said. “That’s how we’re al looking at it as a football team.”
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.