The news broke today and took locals by surprise, as Bellevue (Wash.) High School standout offensive lineman David DeCastro made a verbal commitment to Stanford. The 6'4" 285-pound road grader held offers from both Washington and Washington State, but it was Cardinal head coach Jim Harbaugh who waltzed into the main office at the high school and heard the magic words. Harbaugh can't do much talking while on the road this month during the NCAA evaluation period, but all he had to do today was listen.
"I just told him that I want to be a Cardinal. I wanted to commit," DeCastro recounts. "It was pretty cool. You could just tell he was excited. He pumped his fist and smiled: 'Yes! Yes!'"
Though the timing of Harbaugh's visit came on Tuesday, the Bellevue lineman had settled on his decision last week.
"First I talked to my college counselor Thursday night to see what he thought. It was a no-brainer kind of thing," DeCastro says. "Then I just wanted to make sure I talked to Butch [Goncharoff] about it - my head coach. He was all for it. I talked to him Friday. Then I thought, 'I'm pretty much set.'"
With the Cardinal's head coach coming four days later, DeCastro sat on the news through the weekend.
"It wasn't too hard for me to wait. It was just a couple days," he offers. "It was perfect timing."
DeCastro had never previously hinted that he could pull the trigger with his college decision this early. His interviews have portrayed a laid back youngster with few plans and even less hurry to finish this process. Now that he has delivered his verbal commitment, DeCastro reveals his relief to have this all behind him.
"It's really nice, to be done with all the text messages and that kind of crap from the coaches," DeCastro confides. "It's nice to know that I can just concentrate on football and don't have to worry about the whole recruiting process and calling coaches. Now I just have one coach to worry about. It makes your life so much easier."
More interesting than understanding the "when" of this early pledge is the decision in favor of Stanford. DeCastro held offers from over half the Pac-10 (Washington, Washington State, Oregon State, Stanford, Arizona and Arizona State), and his decision stunned those in Seattle who hoped to keep him home..
"They were definitely second behind when it came to pressure," he says of the Huskies. "Stanford pushed the most, but it was pretty close. Yeah, they were pressuring me, and yeah, it's my hometown. But when it comes down to it, I just didn't really factor that into it."
"I thought it was the best fit," DeCastro explains of his Cardinal commitment. "I look at Stanford and see basically everything. If I have the ability to make the NFL, I don't think it matters what college you go to because it's pretty much based on athletic ability. I thought if I don't make it to the NFL, why not fall back on one of the best educations you can possibly have? Plus, they play in a good conference. The campus is amazing. It just felt like if I went to a place like U-Dub or Wazzu, I would have wasted my high school career actually trying in the classroom."
One could imagine a chorus of boos coming from fans of the Huskies and Cougars at Bellevue High School on Tuesday, but the standout student-athlete with a 29 ACT and 3.6 unweighted GPA found resounding acceptance instead.
"With Stanford, they're supportive. They all think it's fantastic," DeCastro says. "They're happy for me."
Ranked the #14 overall prospect by Scout.com in the Northwest Hot 100, DeCastro can play and has played all five positions on the offensive line. He projects as an interior linemen in college, and he started at center all 14 games last fall for Bellevue's undefeated state champion squad. After Stanford signed three linemen measuring 6'6" or taller in February, and a fourth who could conceivably play tackle as well, DeCastro's ability to play center or guard is just what Jim Harbaugh ordered.
Stanford has loaded up linemen with its first commitment each of the past four years, yet the Class of 2008 found a pair of skill players prior to DeCastro's pledge. He is the first offensive line commit this year and has a vision for what he and his future position mates in this class will do on The Farm.
"We'll be tough," DeCastro forecasts. "We'll be intelligent, definitely, being at Stanford. Hopefully we'll be able to play as a team. I don't know the guys yet, but we should get some bond and chemistry going."
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