Seven months after flipping his commitment from LSU to Texas, highly touted Steele defensive back Caden Sterns made it official Wednesday, signing with UT on the first day of the NCAA's new early signing period for high school seniors.
Sterns, who played safety for Steele the past three seasons, is ranked among the top defensive backs in the country.
Sterns was among 17 players from the San Antonio area who signed letters of intent with Football Bowl Subdivision schools Wednesday. The early signing period ends at 11:59 p.m. Friday.
It's just been a blessing," Sterns said after a ceremony in the Steele auditorium. "It's been a long road, but I really enjoyed the process. Coming to Steele and following guys' footsteps that have been in this program and gone to college, it's amazing.
"The work's not done yet. My dream is not fulfilled. Whatever I do these next three, four years can change the rest of my life. If I go in with the right mindset and keep working hard, my dreams will come true."
Sterns was succinct when asked why he decided on UT after withdrawing his commitment to LSU in May.
"Simple," he said. "It's home."
Sterns, who will start classes at UT next month, said he's looking forward to the challenge of playing at the college level.
"I can't wait to go out there and compete," he said.
Sterns was a three-year starting safety at Steele, which went a combined 37-8 the past three seasons. The Knights advanced to the state semifinals his sophomore year, the Class 6A Division II state final when he was a junior, and the state quarterfinals this season.
Asked what he'll remember about his football experience at Steele, Sterns said: "Just the bonding with the team, and the friendships that you made on the team. Nothing can beat that. Football can't beat that. Plays made can't beat that. A lot of these dudes that I hung out with or whatever, I'm going to stay in touch with them for the rest of my life, so you just can't beat that."
Players who sign letters of intent in December are not required to enroll in school early, although some plan to start classes in January.
Recruits who don’t sign during this week’s three-day window still can make their commitment to a college official during college football’s traditional signing period, which runs from the first Wednesday in February to April 1.
Cornerback JayVeon Cardwell (Oklahoma State), wide receiver Onyx Smith (Bowling Green) and safety JT Woods (Baylor) are Steele’s three other early signees.
A fifth Steele player, running back Brenden Brady, has committed to Rice, but has opted to wait until February to sign.
UTSA signed two area players on Wednesday, Wagner offensive tackle Spencer Burford and Brandeis defensive tackle Brandon Matterson.
"We looked at Brandon and what he does at the high school level, and just was a dominant player as a defensive lineman, as an offensive lineman," Roadrunners coach Frank Wilson said. "He did phenomenal things.
"Spencer Burford is the most talented offensive lineman we've recruited during our tenure here. He has the ability that he could have played at any school that I've been at. We think he's a jewel. He's extremely talented and a physical specimen."
Judson, which beat Steele for the first time this season, has two players who have committed to FBS schools. Dynamic dual-threat quarterback Julon Williams signed early with Houston, which recruited him as an athlete. Williams probably will be a slot receiver for the Cougars.
Cornerback Chris Mills has committed to Missouri, but did not sign with the Tigers on Wednesday.
Williams and Mills played key roles for a Judson team that finished 10-2 this season and lost to Austin Lake Travis in the second round of the playoffs. The Rockets beat the Cavaliers 65-45 in their season opener.
O’Connor cornerback Zaire Taylor will join Williams at Houston. Taylor was a key player this season for the Panthers, who finished 13-1 after falling in the 6A Division I state quarterfinals. O’Connor went 10-0 in the regular season for the first time in its history and set a school record for most victories in one year.
Smithson Valley’s Trevon Moehrig-Woodard, arguably the most versatile player in the San Antonio area, signed early with TCU. Moehrig-Woodard started in the secondary for the Rangers and also saw spot duty on offense as a receiver and returned kicks.
The service academies usually sign players from the area and this year is no exception. Churchill offensive tackle, who initially committed to Rice, signed early with Air Force and Antonian center Brenden Knoespel signed with Army. Knoespel was recruited as a long snapper.
Brennan running back Jahmyl Jeter, who’s played on the varsity since his freshman year, will join Cardwell at Oklahoma State. Jeter was one of the top rushers in the area the past three seasons.
Clark tight end Ben Sims and New Braunfels offensive tackle Weston Wright were the only other area players who signed early with a Big 12 school.
Marshall cornerback Stanley Lambert signed with Arizona State. Lambert was recruited as an outside linebacker by the Sun Devils.
Boerne Champion quarterback Davis Brin (Tulsa) and MacArthur quarterback Tyler Vitt (Texas State) also signed with FBS schools on Wednesday.
Four other area players – Clemens wide receiver Tommy Bush, O’Connor safety Millard Bradford, Somerset quarterback Zadock Dinkelmann, and Taft running back Justin Stevenson – remain uncommitted going into the early signing period. All have been recruited by FBS schools.
The story of Dinkelmann’s recruitment is an intriguing one. The nephew of college and pro quarterbacks Ty and Koy Detmer, Dinkelmann made national headlines in February 2014 when he committed to LSU as a 14-year-old eighth-grader.
But he withdrew his commitment last January, almost four months after LSU coach Les Miles was fired four games into the 2016 season. Dinkelmann considered pledging to Texas, but he backed off after coach Charlie Strong was fired after the season.
Recruited by BYU after he withdrew his commitment to LSU, Dinkelmann committed to the Cougars in May. Considering Ty Detmer was BYU’s offensive coordinator, Dinkelmann’s decision seemed like a no-brainer. But his plans fell through again when Detmer, who won the Heisman Trophy as a junior at BYU in 1990, was fired in late November after the Cougars finished 4-9.
A week later, Dinkelmann announced via Twitter that he had withdrawn his commitment to BYU. Dinkelmann passed for 2,235 yards and 21 touchdowns this season with Somerset, helping lead the Bulldogs to a 9-3 finish and the second round of the 4A Division I playoffs. He is the grandson of longtime high school coach Sonny Detmer, who coached him at Somerset.
A pro-style quarterback, Detmer is 6-foot-4½ and weighs 228 pounds. There has been some speculation that Detmer could wind up signing with UTSA.
Roadrunners head coach Frank Wilson was LSU’s recruiting coordinator from 2010 until he left the Tigers to succeed Larry Coker at UTSA in January 2016.
Here is a list of high school seniors from the San Antonio area who signed football letters of intent with FBS schools on Wednesday, the first day of the NCAA's early signing period:
Ryan Booth, offensive tackle, Churchill (Air Force)
Davis Brin, quarterback, Boerne Champion (Tulsa)
Spencer Burford, offensive tackle, Wagner (UTSA)
JayVeon Cardwell, cornerback, Steele (OSU)
Jahmyl Jeter, running back, Brennan (OSU)
Brendan Knoespel, long snapper, Antonian (Army)
Stanley Lambert, athlete, Marshall (Arizona State)
Brandon Matterson, defensive tackle, Brandeis (UTSA)
Trevon Moehrig-Woodard, cornerback, Smithson Valley (TCU)
Ben Sims, tight end, Clark (Baylor)
Onyx Smith, wide receiver, Steele (Bowling Green)
Caden Sterns, safety, Steele (Texas)
Zaire Taylor, cornerback, O’Connor (Houston)
Tyler Vitt, quarterback, MacArthur (Texas State)
Julon Williams, athlete, Judson (Houston)
JT Woods, safety, Steele (Baylor)
Weston Wright, offensive tackle, New Braunfels (Texas Tech)
Here is a list of high school seniors from the San Antonio area who have opted to sign letters of intent with FBS schools on Feb. 7, the first day of the traditional signing period:
Brenden Brady, running back, Steele (Rice)
Tommy Bush, wide receiver, Clemens (uncommitted)
Millard Bradford, safety, O’Connor, (uncommitted)
Zadock Dinkelmann, quarterback, Somerset (uncommitted)
Chris Mills, cornerback, Judson (Missouri)
Justin Stevenson, running back, Taft (uncommitted)