Sterling racked up 22 starts in 40 games played for the Cowboys, recording 161 tackles (100 solo), 22.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, three interceptions, 12 passes defensed, three quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries. He earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors from the league's coaches in 2019 and 2020. In 2020, Sterling finished the season ranked No. 1 in the Big 12 and No. 12 in the FBS with two fumble recoveries, and his 5.1 solo tackles per game ranked No. 2 in the Big 12.