Sterns Named “The Athletic” All-American, Joins Wilson and Zappe on All-Portal Team

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — WKU Football wide receiver Jerreth Sterns was named a 2021 “The Athletic” Second Team All-American, the news outlet announced Wednesday. He is the second Hilltopper to be honored by The Athletic since the website began listing postseason teams in 2017, joining tight end Joshua Simon, who was a Second Team Freshman All-American in 2019.

There are zero Group of Five players on the First Team Offense (three on First Team Defense and Special Teams), while Sterns is 1-of-4 Group of Five players on the Second Team Offense (one on the Second Team Defense). He is the lone Conference USA representative across both teams, consisting of 50 total players.

In 13 games this season, Sterns has 137 receptions for 1,718 yards and 14 touchdowns. His averages of 10.54 receptions and 132.2 yards per game lead all FBS receivers by 2.09 and 9.32, respectively, while his 14 scores are tied for third in the nation. Sterns’ 137 receptions are the seventh-most in a single season in FBS history and the most-ever by a C-USA player.

In addition, The Athletic named a 2021 All-Portal Team on Thursday and three WKU players – Sterns, offensive guard Boe Wilson and quarterback Bailey Zappe – earned spots. The three Hilltoppers on the 26-man team were more than any other program; with Alabama, Baylor, Florida State, Kentucky and NC State getting two apiece.

For the year, Zappe – a transfer from Houston Baptist along with Sterns – is 442-of 639 passing (69.2%) for 5,545 yards, with 56 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The all-time single-season FBS yardage record is 5,833 by Texas Tech’s B.J. Symons during his 14-game 2003 season, while the single-season FBS touchdown record is 60 by LSU’s Joe Burrow during his 15-game 2019 campaign. A performance by Zappe of 289 passing yards and five touchdowns in the Hilltoppers’ bowl game would eclipse both marks.

Wilson – a transfer from Nebraska – was a key cog in one of the best offensive lines in the nation. According to PFF College, WKU earned a pass-block rating of 91.2 to lead all FBS teams; the next-highest in C-USA was Marshall, ranked No. 20 with a 74.8 mark. The Hilltoppers allowed only 16 sacks, which ranked tied for 13th in the nation despite the offense attempting 651 passes. Wilson’s 87.9 pass-block rating ranked second in C-USA to only teammate Cole Spencer’s 90.7.