Castleman Still Warm From The Fat Cat

Like most of the Oklahoma State football players, James Castleman is relaxing at home. Castleman is back home with family and friends in Amarillo, Texas and while the weather was chilly in Tempe, Ariz., for the Cowboys' 30-22 Cactus Bowl win over Washington, it's got nothing on Amarillo this week.

"It is extremely cold out here," Castleman said of the wind chill in the teens and single digits. "It is very windy and there is still snow on the ground out there."

With the win in the Cactus Bowl, Castleman capped a career at OSU that saw four bowl games, including wins over Stanford in the Fiesta to go with a Big 12 Championship, a victory over Purdue in the Heart of Dallas, a loss to Missouri in the Cotton Bowl, and a win over Washington last Friday.

It was more than wins and losses, much more.

"It was definitely the best I've ever had, top 10, no doubt," he said of the college experience at Oklahoma State. "Being in college taught me so much about how to be a man, how to manage my time, my money, and more.

"Coach (Glenn) Spencer talks about how he's here to teach more than football and to teach you how to be a young man and a man of your word. I think he has done a great job not just with me but with the younger players and he has spent a lot of time with all of us. He grinds on us in a good way."

While his freshman season included impressive wins over Texas A&M, Missouri, Texas, Baylor, and Oklahoma on the way to the Fiesta Bowl, culminating with the overtime win over Stanford; it was actually this season that made a very strong mark on Castleman and a memory he is just as proud of.

"We had a lot of guys in the back end that didn't take a lot of breaks, didn't have much depth, and they had to be iron men," he said of his teammates like Seth Jacobs, Ryan Simmons and Kevin Peterson. "What I liked is that throughout the year we kept fighting. We were fighting like dogs and it didn't matter even if the game was lost, we kept grinding and fighting like we still had a chance. I liked that a lot how the team never gave up and kept fighting."

Castleman enjoyed every lineman's dream (offense or defense) when as he was being introduced at the Senior Banquet the night after the Bedlam win. Head coach Mike Gundy made him a promise of playing offense and carrying the ball in the bowl game. Gundy actually said he should have been shot for not using the athletic big guy in that role prior to Castleman's final game in a Cowboys uniform.

"He said, "we're going to use you on offense," so I thought that meant I was going to block," Castleman laughed. "I thought they would have me block for Des (Roland) or pass block but not something crazy. Whenever we were running the plays where I was going to get the ball or catch the ball, I was like, 'what?'"

On the first drive against the Huskies at the 1-yard line quarterback Mason Rudolph motioned out of the backfield leaving Castleman to take the snap and power into the end zone.

"It was some good stuff and I was really happy I got to do it," Castleman expressed. "I've had a lot of people give me a hard time especially about the announcers calling it the 'fat cat' instead of the wildcat when they ran it with me. It was great though being able to help the team and scoring a touchdown."

The more impressive play was his fourth quarter reception out of the backfield where he rumbled down the field 48 yards. He blew up one Husky defender and then said after the game he went down when the "check engine light came on." The check engine light is okay now.

"The check engine light is off," he added. "The oil has been changed and the gears re-modified and everything is good to go."

Castleman will play in the upcoming East-West Shrine Game and then workout throughout the spring while finishing his degree program. He has a bright future with the NFL and if not at defensive tackle then they may want to check his blocking because in the new heavy formation when he wasn't carrying the ball Castleman showed great technique blocking.

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