Jace Sternberger finds success in USFL after a well-traveled career

To say that Jess Sternberger experienced many milestones during his football journey would be an understatement.

The 6-foot-4, 251-pound tight end from Kingfisher, Oklahoma, Sternberger didn’t have an exhaustive list of scholarship offers coming out of high school. In fact, he leaned toward attending community college over late offers from former Jayhawks head coach David Beaty and the University of Kansas.

In his first season at Kansas, the Jayhawks failed to win a single game and finished the 2015 campaign with an 0–12 scoreline and an average margin of defeat of 31 points.

“I don’t think you can think of any worse way to lose a game,” said Sternberger, recalling his freshman year at Kansas. “I wasn’t aware of the talent in college football.”

Sternberger, now a member of the Birmingham Stallions of the USFL, joined RJ Young’s podcast, “number one college football showTo discuss his well traveled football career and explain how he got to where he is today.

Texas A&M to the USFL: Jess Sternberger’s journey to success

Birmingham Stallions tight end Jess Sternberger talks about his long road to the USFL.

After spending two seasons at Kansas, Sternberger made the decision to transfer to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, a community college in Miami, Oklahoma. It was an experience that Sternberger described as “refreshing”.

Sternberger said of his year spent at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, “Coming from Kansas, being on a team and being around coaches working for the same goals … everyone out there Was trying to get out.” “Our goal was to compete, win the game, and get out.”

That’s exactly what Sternberger did when the team finished 9-3 in the 2017 season, which led to offers from Jimbo Fisher and the Texas A&M Aggies. Fischer initially recruited Sternberger at Florida State, but he decided to leave FSU and accept the head coaching role at Texas A&M in December 2017.

Sternberger followed Fischer to College Station, becoming Fischer’s first official commitment at his new school.

It didn’t take long for Sternberger to understand how different the fan base at an SEC powerhouse like Texas A&M is compared to his previous stops.

“I remember my JUCO highlight tape getting 2,500 views, but once I posted I was going to visit A&M, it got 19,000 the next day and over 30,000 on Sunday,” Sternberger told Young. “I thought it was incredible.”

Sternberger’s goal in going to Texas A&M was to play against the top league in college football and prove to himself and others that he belonged. The talented tight end did just that, posting a team-high 48 catches for 832 yards and 10 touchdowns en route to becoming an All-American.

After his lone season with Texas A&M, Sternberger decided to forgo his final year of eligibility and run for the 2019 NFL Draft, where he was selected in the third round by the Green Bay Packers. He played two seasons in Green Bay with his best year coming in 2020, where he caught 12 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown.

Sternberger spent the next several years bouncing from team to team through the NFL, with stops in Seattle, Washington and Pittsburgh along the way. After being dropped by the Steelers in 2022, he signed with the Birmingham Stallions in January 2023 and is in the midst of an outstanding season with his new club.

Through four weeks of the USFL season, Sternberger has already recorded 14 catches for 223 yards and three touchdowns as he helped the Stallions post a 3–1 record. He credits some of his success to Stallion quarterback Alex McGough, who also happens to be his roommate.

“It’s something about being with your quarterback every day where you start to pick up on each other’s personalities and this and that,” Sternberger said. ‘When I ask questions, Alex [McGough] Knows how my mind works and what I am processing and thinking.

It’s been a good journey for Sternberger, who is now on his fifth professional team after three stints in college. But as Sternberger hastened to admit to Young, it’s all part of the process of proving to himself and others that he belongs.

“That’s why I still have that chip on my shoulder,” Sternberger said. “I feel like I’m going through exactly what I’m going through right now [in college,] It’s just that I’m in an older body and position because it’s the USFL and not JUCO. That’s my mindset for everything right now.

Sternberger will try to prove himself again this weekend when the Stallions take on the Houston Gamblers in a South Division showdown on Saturday (4 p.m. ET on Fox and the Fox Sports App).

RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for Fox Sports and host of the podcast “The Number One College Football Show.follow him on twitter @RJ_Young And Subscribe to “The Number One College Football Show” on YouTube,

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