DeCastro looks to cap stellar season with win against Oklahoma StateBy Mark Soltau December 22, 2011, 3:15 pm
Photo credit: Bob Drebin
For a guy who didn’t start playing football until high school, David
DeCastro caught on fast.
A consensus All-American in 2011 and two-time first-team all-conference selection,
the Bellevue, Washington product has become
one of the top offensive linemen in the country. The redshirt junior
right guard was a finalist for the Outland Trophy and semifinalist for
the Lombardi Award. He anchored a line that allowed only 0.75 sacks per
game – eighth-best in the nation, and helped Stanford rush for 207.92
yards per game, 23rd in the country.
“He was exceptional as a leader, he was exceptional the way he studied
the game, and his play was just unreal,” said Cardinal offensive line
coach Mike Bloomgren. “He dominated his opponents game-in and game-out.”
The chiseled 6-foot-5, 307-pound DeCastro, known as “Double-D” to
teammates and coaches, is never satisfied with his play. Forget the
accolades; he’s convinced there is always room for improvement.
“Kind of surreal, to be honest,” he said of his post-season
recognition. “Doesn’t really seem like it’s happening. The way I’ve
been coached, it’s like in one ear and out the other. It’s always that
search for perfection. You get a pat on the butt and it’s back to
In this case, reality comes in the form of explosive Oklahoma State,
Stanford’s opponent on Jan. 2 in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Glendale,
Arizona. The third-ranked Cowboys average 49.3 points per game, which
means the Cardinal offense must click to keep pace.
“We have to play perfect,” said DeCastro. “They put up a lot of points.
We need to do our job on our side of the ball. We have to control the
ball and the clock and put points on the board.”
Scoring hasn’t been a problem for fourth-ranked Stanford, which
averages 41.9 points and is led by two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up
Andrew Luck. Ask any Cardinal player and he will tell you Luck is the
best player in the country.
“Of course he was,” said DeCastro, who is slightly biased, since he
lives with Luck, wide receiver Griff Whalen and center Sam
Schwartzstein. “You wouldn’t have to tell him that. He’s on to beating
Oklahoma State and has more important things to worry about.”
DeCastro’s parents were born in South Africa and his father played
rugby. DeCastro spent about six months in the country but doesn’t
“We’ve been back for a couple trips,” he said. “I went on safari and
the game reserves are a lot of fun. I’d love to go back there if I get
Football is still kind of a blur to his father, who nevertheless
instilled great discipline and work ethic in his son.
“He doesn’t know a drop about it,” said DeCastro. “My mom was kind of
scared to let me play with the older kids. I think she kind of enjoys
Why not? DeCastro has tremendous strength and is seldom out-manned.
“The one thing David does so much better than most people you see in
college football right now is he drive blocks and moves people,” said
Bloomgren, who spent the last four years coaching for the New York Jets.
“You know Russ Grimm, in his (NFL) Hall of Fame speech said there is no
greater feeling in the game of football than to move a man from Point A
to Point B against his will. And I’m not sure I’ve coached anybody at
any level that does that better than David DeCastro.”
DeCastro wears jersey No. 52 and it’s no accident. At Bellevue High
School, the number went to the best offensive lineman and was passed
down to him from Stephen Schilling, who went on to play for Michigan
and is now a rookie with the San Diego Chargers.
“I got lucky,” DeCastro said of the jersey being available at Stanford
his freshman year. “It was all mine.”
Coming into the season, there were major questions about the offensive
line, where DeCastro and left tackle Jonathan Martin were the only
returning starters. But Schwartzstein quickly emerged as a force at
center, as did Cameron Fleming at right tackle and David Yankey at left
“I’m pretty happy with the way the guys around me played,” DeCastro
said. “Sam stepped up huge. Fleming and Yankey – those guys did
awesome. We kept meshing more and more every week.”
DeCastro said two of his toughest opponents this year were DaJohn
Harris of USC and Anthony Laurenzi of Washington State. He said the
Stanford offense is too complicated to spend time trash talking.
“We’re too tired doing our jobs,” said DeCastro. “We can’t waste energy
DeCastro has three classes remaining and will finish his engineering
degree this spring. Although he has another year of eligibility and
hasn’t announced his intentions, his next stop is likely the NFL.
“I definitely aspire to be a professional football player,” he said. “I
haven’t said anything and I won’t until after the Fiesta Bowl.”
As you might expect, DeCastro can hold his own at the training table.
Surprisingly, his favorite food is sushi. He loves going to “Sushi 85”
in Palo Alto, where it’s all-you-can-eat for $25.
“I ate like $150 worth of stuff one time,” said DeCastro. “Me alone.
Probably not the best thing, but it’s delicious.”
No matter where he is a year from now, DeCastro will always be tight
with his fellow offensive linemen and has forged life-long memories.
Like eating together every Thursday night; watching “The Office” and
“Modern Family” while stretched out on Whalen’s recliner; and razzing
each other in team meetings.
“Just being around the guys,” he said. “The camaraderie and the
bonding. The experience we’ve had these last four years, coming from
where we started. There’s good and bad. That’s what brings you