James Castleman and Blake Dees Commit

Castleman and Dees both admit their excitement to play for DC James Willis was a big influence on their decision to commit to Texas Tech.

LUBBOCK, TexasJames Castleman and Blake Dees come from two completely different places.

Castleman, a defensive tackle, is a short drive from Lubbock in Amarillo and Dees, a linebacker, is more than 960 miles away in Spanish Fort, Alab.

But both highly-touted defensive recruits feel like they will be joining a new family after the two committed to Texas Tech this week, giving the Red Raiders their ninth and tenth verbal commitments for the 2011 class.

"That was something that was important to me," Castleman said of the closeness to his home in Amarillo. "My mom is going back to college so her being able to come out to watch me play and playing time are two big things and they have both of those here."

The 6-foot-4, 255-pound Castleman had more than 80 tackles last season as well as three sacks and 21 tackles-for-loss for the Sandies, who went 8-2 last season, finishing in second place in District 2-5A.

Castleman visited Tech twice last week, coming in town for a daily practice and attended the spring game on Saturday. He said he's built a good relationship with Tech defensive coordinator James Willis and likes where the Tech program is heading in the next couple of years.

"He's one of those guys that gets really pumped up," Castleman said of Willis. "And watching him get pumped up is what gets me pumped up. So I think I'll love getting to play for him."

Dees said Willis also had a strong influence on him, stretching all the way back to last year when Willis was a linebackers coach at Alabama under Nick Saban.

"He recruited me originally when he was at Alabama," Dees said. "I just kind of kept up with him after he left and went to Texas Tech. When we got to talk again and wanted me to come to Texas Tech, I just thought that was huge and it made my decision pretty easy."

The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Dees currently plays outside linebacker in a similar 3-4 defense for Spanish Fort and had 110 tackles and a fumble returned for a touchdown last season. He said Willis could picture Dees as an inside linebacker at either the MIKE or WILL position similar to where Bront Bird is playing this season for the Red Raiders.

Dees also visited for the annual spring game and both players said aside from the coaches and game, they each felt like Lubbock was a place they could call home for the next few years.

"I love Lubbock, it's a fun place to be," Castleman said.

Verbal commitments are non-binding and players will have their chance to make things official on signing day, Feb. 2, 2011.

Video of Dees:

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