Bryce Sterk had a standout senior season as a 6-5, 260-pound defensive end for the Montana State Bobcats in the fall of 2019. (Courtesy photo/MSU)

Lynden 2015 grad has built up a credible DE resumé at Montana State

  LYNDEN ­— There’s the classic tale of a kid from a small town getting the chance to shine on the big stage. Lynden native Bryce Sterk might get that chance after this month’s NFL draft April 23-25. 

  Sterk, a Lynden High School graduate in 2015, earned Northwest Conference football MVP honors that previous fall as a senior. He is projected to be a late-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft as a defensive end. 

  At 6-5, Sterk started to show up on the radar of NFL teams at the end of his junior season at Montana State University. In 2018 he led the Big Sky Conference with 17 tackles for loss and was second in sacks with 8.5. 

  “After my junior year, my position coach sat me down and said I had a real shot of going to the NFL,” Sterk said. “That was the first time I had heard of [possibly being drafted]. Shortly after that, some agents started contacting me and some scouts came through to get measurements. That’s when I started realizing it was a possibility.”

  As a senior, Sterk only improved his numbers. He logged 65 tackles with 20 of them for a loss, and 15 sacks. 

  At the moment, Sterk is back in Lynden doing some workouts at home leading up to the draft. Earlier, he trained in Denver for three months. With COVID-19 concerns rising, his scheduled pro day at Montana State was canceled, but the facility he trained at put on a mock pro day for remaining players in front of a retired scout. 

  “I was planning on doing my pro day April 3 in Bozeman and for the rest of the month leading up to the draft, I was going to remain there to do workouts for teams or fly out to other teams if they wanted to do a workout,” Sterk said. “Since teams aren’t bringing anyone or sending anyone out, I just came home after the mock pro day in Denver.”

  Being in consideration by NFL teams provided a little bit of extra motivation to perform his final year, but not much, Sterk said — he was already highly motivated. 

  “It wasn’t drastic, but I definitely put in more time in the film room and mastered my techniques and put more intent into what I do,” he said. “Nothing crazy, because I always want to compete at a high level.”

  Being able to represent the small town of Lynden is a big deal to Sterk, and he still talks to his former coaches here, Blake VanDalen and Blake Witman. 

  Small-town football means something to him. 

  “There’s more community support,” Sterk said. “From a big city, I feel you have people that are fans, but you don’t really know them personally.”

  Getting a shot in the NFL was always a distant goal he had for himself, but along the way he put his focus on the smaller pieces to put himself in a position to get there.

  “There were little steps of first getting to college football and then getting on the field and becoming a starter,” he said. “[The NFL] was a goal, but it wasn’t something I was always shooting for. I always wanted to make small steps to get to that larger goal, which was the NFL.”

  It’s every football player’s dream to get drafted, and Sterk is no different. But with the Canadian Football League and the recently revived XFL in the picture, he said he’s going to keep his options open knowing there are other ways to keep playing should the NFL draft not go as he hopes.