Sternberger discusses son’s route to the NFL
Jason Sternberger presented Kingfisher Rotarians and guests with a narrative of the football travels of his oldest son following his graduation from Kingfisher High School in 2015.
Sternberger, the Kingfisher Public Schools superintendent, discussed the breakout year of his son, Jace, who became an All-American tight end in 2018 at Texas A&M Univeristy.
Jace recently declared for the National Football League Draft after a breakout junior season with the Aggies.
Speaking at the club’s weekly Tuesday meeting, Sternberger said neither he nor his wife Jackie would have ever been able to forecast the meteoric rise of Jace’s football marketability over the past 12 months.
“Honestly, we were hoping he would get some solid playing time and they would throw him some balls, and that would pave the way for a strong senior year in 2019,” Sternberger said.
He said the Sternberger family’s experience at College Station was “wonderful in every way.”
“From the very beginning at the spring game, Jace was, for whatever reason, a crowd favorite,” Sternberg-er told Rotarians.
“He was the one they chose to cheer the loudest for and folks would seek Jackie and I out to congratulate us and thank us for our son, before, during and after the games. It was really a fun experience for us all.”
To begin the presentation, Sternberger narrated a highlight video of Jace’s catches during his season at Texas A&M.
He said Jace signed with the University of Kansas out of high school and the family felt good that he was going to a Division I school that was fairly close.
Although Kansas had been at the bottom of the Big 12, the family felt the program was going in the right direction under then-head coach David Beaty.
However, after his first two years in Lawrence, a new assistant coach was hired whose offense basically eliminated the tight end position.
“They told us Jace could stay and change positions, but we felt his best option was to transfer to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College in Miami, which is a two-year school,” Sternberger said. “Our hope was that he would have a good year there and would attract attention from DI schools and would further his career in that manner.”
Sternberger said although two other tight ends were already in place at NEO and the year started with a three-man rotation at the position, by the time the year ended, Jace had a standout season and did indeed attract attention from several major university programs.
“We actually thought he was going to go to Boise State in Idaho and Jace was good with that,” Sternberger said. “But at the very end of the process, a Florida State coach called and told him he might want to wait a few days. Of course, we later found out that Jimbo Fisher, the head coach there, had accepted the job at A&M and sure enough they offered Jace a scholarship.”
Sternberger said more than 30 agents had talked to them over the course of the past several months, and scouts and general managers with NFL organizations had indicated that if Jace was to forgo his final year of eligibility, Jace would in all probability be drafted in the second or third round.
It was even suggested Jace could be selected in the first round.
“We felt like this was the best route to go,” Sternberg-er said of his son opting to declare for the draft.
“Jace is 23 years old. What’s he going to achieve by staying at A&M another year? Catch a few balls more than he did last year? He feels very strongly that he’s ready and this has always been his dream and we felt like the positives outweighed the negatives.”
Sternberger said Jace was currently in Denver at a facility that helps athletes prepare for the NFL Combine, which will be held in Indianapolis Feb. 26-March 4.
The combine is an event in which prospective draftees run through strength, agility, speed and position drills, with representatives from all 32 NFL teams in attendance and paying extremely close attention to every detail and event.
Sternberger said Jace chose Mike McCartney, son of past Colorado University football coach Bill McCartney, as his agent.
“He’s the one we felt very comfortable with and it seems to be working out very well,” he said.
The journey from Kansas to Texas A&M was stressful and trying on many occasions for the entire family, said Stern-berger, but the result has been surreal.
“It was an amazing 2018 season for Jace. He’s healthy, he’s happy and he’s pursuing his dream to perform at the highest level on the biggest stage,” Sternberger said. “We have no idea how it will turn out, but as parents, that’s what we want for our children.
“He has a great challenge and opportunity in front of him, and he’s working hard to make it happen.”
Sternberger was introduced by Rotarian Derek Daugherty, who arranged for the program.