If you don't follow the national or West Coast landscape of high school football closely, you might be excused for not knowing about Bellevue (Wash.) High School. The Wolverines twice in the last three years marched to national rankings and undefeated state championships in the Evergreen State: 14-0 in 2006 and 13-0 in 2004. In the season opener of that '04 season, Bellevue shocked the nation with a 39-20 handling of Concord (Calif.) De La Salle High School, ending a 13-year and 151-game unbeaten streak. This past fall the Wolverines disemboweled (47-0) a dominant Auburn (Wash.) Senior High School team that itself was romping through a perfect season and starred a certain quarterback/safety by the name of Kellen Kiilsgaard in the state semifinals.
The Bellevue offense runs the ball mercilessly, and in the 2006 season they racked up 4,900 yards on the ground. Starting at center every game of the 14-game season was junior David DeCastro, who also went both ways late in the season adding defensive line duties. The 6'4" road grader played but did not start at offensive tackle his sophomore season as well. Bellevue needed a center in '06, and he fit the bill with his footwork and physical play. On the move once again in 2007, DeCastro will start at tackle for the Wolverines.
"I'm sure I could do well in any position I was asked to play," says the versatile lineman of his college future on the offensive line. "I'm athletic enough. I don't think I'm molded to fit one perfect position perfectly. I am not sure, not having too much experience yet playing tackle or guard. I'm not too big to play guard. Bellevue's offense is so much different than a college offense, so I'm not really too sure."
What did Bellevue ask of DeCastro at the center position his junior season?
"It depends on the play. Every position on the Bellevue line is pretty important. Without one of them, it pretty much brings the whole O-line down," he answers. "I was physical and agile for my size. I was quick. Being 285 [pounds] doesn't mean that I can't move. I still have pretty good feet and athletic ability for somebody of my stature. I was tough."
Though he will play outside at tackle in his senior season of high school, DeCastro is being recruited to play interior positions on the offensive line in college. His experience and junior film scream for him at center, though he says that he has not heard definitive declarations of playing center versus guard from the coaches and programs recruiting him.
He has heard, however, several who are certain they want him on their roster.
"Four weeks ago, when I got my first offer from Wazzu, everything just started coming," DeCastro says. "It was a like a rush of things. One thing came after another."
"I was pretty surprised," he admits. "I didn't know what to expect. I guess I knew I was good, but I didn't know how colleges went about recruiting and how the whole process worked."
DeCastro is not a name that was hotly discussed in junior recruiting coming into or during the fall. He instead vaulted to the top of the radar with his play at the tail end of his junior season. He admits that his play was less than extraordinary to star the year, but he progressed marvelously, with his best performances coming in the semifinals and state championship games.
He also helped his standing with Stanford by tackling the tough courses at Bellevue. DeCastro took two AP courses as a sophomore and is currently taking AP English and AP calculus as a junior. He carries a 3.6 unweighted cumulative GPA and is signed up for the April ACT. Given the heightened attention he gives to academics, it comes as little surprise that the Stanford scholarship offer was a special one for him.
"It was really exciting, to tell you the truth because Stanford's Stanford. There's no other word for it," DeCastro explains. "It was pretty cool. It was different, just from the student-athlete point of view."
He also already has offers from three of the four Pac-10 schools in the Northwest, which gives him a breadth of opportunities to stay close to home.
"I'm not too sure yet," DeCastro comments on the local offers. "I don't really know what college is the right fit for me. I'm not sure if I want to stay home or whether I want go away. I wish I knew. It would make everything a helluva lot easier."
"I don't know - it's all just kind of a blur," he continues. "I'm just trying to pull all the pieces together and visit colleges. I'll visit Stanford and visit the campus. I've been to Washington, and it's a pretty good campus. I don't know - we'll see what happens."
DeCastro will see Stanford's campus for the first time next weekend, when he and his father visit The Farm and take part in Junior Day. No other scheduled unofficial visits are currently on the books. While at Stanford, he has a few things he wants to examine.
"Location. The overall appearance of the campus, of course. The stadium, practice field, locker room and that kind of stuff," DeCastro lists. "Basically the things where I would be spending most of time."
The trip will also give DeCastro some face time with Stanford's coaches. He says that Tim Drevno was his first Cardinal contact, though most of his subsequent communications have been with Chris Dalman. The offensive line recruit has also spoken with head coach Jim Harbaugh.
"When they mailed my scholarship offer, I was told to call Coach Harbaugh... He's a good guy. That was a good conversation," DeCastro judges. "He told me the fact that an undergraduate degree is worth the same amount as if you had been chosen in the second round of the NFL Draft. That just shows how apart Stanford is from most other universities in terms of education. That was cool."
You may have read a report or two which has mentioned some amount of fandom for DeCastro growing up watching and cheering the local school, Washington. He deflects the degree or importance of that in his recruitment, however.
"I've never really been a favorite of anybody... Yeah, I've always been a fan of the Huskies, but that's just growing up in that area," he maintains. "Not really. It's not that strong of a thing. You know, I've always cheered for them over the Cougars or over any other team just because of location and not any other reason."
Childhood rooting interests may not play a large part in DeCastro's college decision, but he has three factors which he believes will ultimately guide his choice.
"It will probably be a combination of location, education and football," he opines. "As for location, it's not really the distance away from home. It's just what the campus looks like. It's more than just where the school is. It's the overall appearance and quality of the campus."
If the quality and fit of the campus environment rather than radial distance from home are how DeCastro defines "location," and the Cardinal don't lose on the educational battleground, then that leaves the third factor of "football" to be dissected. His hometown Huskies have hit the rocks, but Stanford is also scraping bottom after a painful 1-11 season.
"They have a whole new coaching staff," DeCastro says of Stanford's situation. "They are looking to rebuild. Beyond that, I'm not too sure."
In that same vein of uncertainty, the Bellevue junior has no declarations on the length of his recruiting timeframe. While most of his peers are certain to wait until Signing Day or commit before their senior season, this prospect is cautious in his approach.
"That's still kind of vague. I guess as long as it needs to go because I still don't know. I have no clue what I'm going to do," he admits.
With no favorites, no timeframe and scant visit plans, the recruiting puzzle of David DeCastro is a long way from being pieced together. We will check back in April after his Junior Day on The Farm to see if a few fragments of the picture perhaps come into view.
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