May 24, 2024

Sebastian Castro preparing to build on his legacy as a Hawkeye

Iowa Hawkeyes Football

Iowa defensive back Sebastian Castro (29) prepares to line up before a play in the third quarter against Nebraska Friday November 24, 2023 at Memorial Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Coach Kirk Ferentz concluded spring ball with a final scrimmage last Saturday, and the Hawkeyes look like they’re going to pick up where they left off on defense.

After all, the defense forced several turnovers, flew around the ball, and didn’t make it easy for new Offensive Coordinator Tim Lester. Everyone is expecting Defensive Coordinator Phil Parker to field another elite unit this fall. Parker has a stud at every level of his defense, including All-American Sebastian Castro in the secondary.

The former three-star prospect was the Hawkeyes’ third-leading tackler, broke up nine passes, and led the team in interceptions last season. Castro was a staple at stopping the run, and a ball hawk out in pass coverage. He even returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown in the victory at Iowa State.

Now he’s a graduate student, and has a lot of momentum approaching the summer. Castro understands that being a veteran Hawkeye defender comes with a ton of responsibility, and leadership. He grew up 15 miles outside of Chicago, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Castro is a grinder, who developed a strong work ethic.

Iowa City is his home away from home, and he plans on enjoying his final ride with the program.

“I learned how to be a professional here, and I’m really grateful for everyone here,” Castro said. “I learned a lot from the older guys and coaches, so I just try to give out what I learned.”

After guiding the underclassmen throughout the spring, Castro believes the defense is ahead of schedule. His teammates respect what he has to say because of his experience, production and the way he carries himself on and off the field. With several key returnees in place, plus the addition of some talented youngsters, Castro feels this defense has the potential to be special. That’s a scary thought for the rest of the Big Ten, considering the Hawkeyes finished seventh nationally in total defense, including fifth against the pass, and now they have more depth.

“The biggest part we grew in was the young guys, because the young guys had a lot of reps during spring ball,” he said. “They learned a lot, and they’re getting more comfortable with the defense, so that’s all we can ask for from the young guys.”

Iowa’s defense had to carry the load last season. With the quarterback situation looking murky following spring practice, the defense might have to be even better, if the Hawkeyes hope to have a second-straight, 10-win campaign. Castro is ready for anything that comes his way though.

Being a versatile defender means Parker can plug Castro in at several positions, depending on the formation of the offense. He’s no stranger to making plays in the clutch either. Castro sacked the quarterback against Kentucky in the 2023 Music City Bowl.

The 5-foot-11, 205-pounder stepped his game up in Big Ten play down the stretch, with an interception against Michigan State and Wisconsin, to go along with a sack at Nebraska, and a season-high, nine tackles against Michigan. Castro is a natural at being in the right place at the right time because of great instincts.

“I just try to focus on the details everyday, it’s an ongoing process being an athlete and trying to be successful,” the 23-year old said. “So it’s all about taking advantage of the day.”

The 2024 season is still a little over four months away, but Castro knows there’s plenty of work to do in the meantime. From summer workouts, to film study and of course classes, there’s no denying he has to multitask. Castro remains confident that the defense made strides through the spring, and now he’s eager to build on what the Hawkeyes accomplished last year.

“We grew as a team, and that’s what we wanted to accomplish, we’re feeling good.”