While so much attention is given to Cooper DeJean and Xavier Nwankpa as Iowa defensive backs, Sebastian Castro just quietly goes about his business and does his job.
And he usually does it quite well, as was the case in Iowa’s 20-13 victory over Iowa State Saturday in Ames.
Castro’s pick-six in the second quarter proved to be the difference as Iowa beat Iowa State for the seventh time in the last eight games, and for sixth straight time in Ames.
Castro isn’t highly decorated like DeJean, who made first-team All-Big Ten last season as a cornerback, nor is he a former star recruit like Nwankpa, who as a five-star recruit, turned down scholarship offers from Ohio State and Notre Dame, and countless other elite programs, to be a Hawkeye.
Castro is your typical Kirk Ferentz player in that he is tough, fundamentally sound, fearless, and hungry.
He is also a savvy veteran as he showed on his pick-six when he sniffed out the pass in the flat and then umped on the route.
“It was really like slow motion,” Castro said. “They had motioned over, and I just read it the whole way. I saw the quarterback take his steps and I just went through my progressions.
“It felt like practice. Everything was slowed down. It’s something I’m never going to forget. Because I saw the ball coming real slow caught it, and then bring it home.”
Castro’s pick-six was the reward from coaching, and from experience.
The Oak Lawn, Illinois native has appeared in 29 games as a Hawkeye and he entered Saturday’s game with nine career stars.
Castro won the Next Man In award last season, and that award helps to define the Iowa program under Kirk Ferentz perhaps more than any other reward.
Castro plays the cash position, which is sort of a combination between defensive back and linebacker, a fifth defensive back that also has to handle some of the responsibilities of a linebacker.
To play cash takes being physical in traffic and agile and alert in space.
Castro was redshirted as a freshman in 2019, and he appeared briefly in just one game during the Covid-19-shortened 2020 season.
He saw action in all 14 games in the 2021 season, but he only had six tackles.
It was last season when the 5-foot-11, 205-pound Castro emerged as he started eight games at the cash position and finished with 33 tackles and five pass breakups.
Iowa is considered a developmental program under Kirk Ferentz, and Castro is a shining example of that.
Castro is the kind of player every team needs, dependable, loyal, and always hungry because he’s had to work hard to reach this point, and he’s had to be patient at a time when many college football players aren’t willing to be patient.
Castro gives the Iowa defense a veteran presence as a fifth-year senior.
And he usually plays well.
It’s hard to think of a play in which Castro has been out of position, or when he missed a tackle.
He might not be spectacular, but he’s steady and reliable, and yet another quality defensive back under Phil Parker.
DeJean had another standout performance with 10 tackles against Iowa State, while Nwankpa and redshirt freshman cornerback Deshaun Lee also played well.
But it was Castro who made the biggest play, and it came from being a wise veteran, and from always being well prepared as Iowa State quarterback Rocco Becht learned the hard way Saturday.
Iowa DB Sebastian Castro breaking down his pick-six that ended up being the difference in todays game: pic.twitter.com/HF9D4ydnq4
— Dallas Jones (@DallasJonesy) September 9, 2023