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29 Days Until Hawkeye Football: Sebastian Castro & Jackson Ritter

Will Casto break through into a stacked defensive backfield?

NCAA FOOTBALL: NOV 25 Nebraska at Iowa Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We have a pair of Hawks as we continue on...

But first, LeShun Daniels’ big day against the Minnesota Golden Gophers capped off a beautiful day in 2015:

Sebastian Castro, RS Freshman
Oak Lawn, IL (Richards)
5’11”, 197 lbs
2020 Projection: Backup defensive back

The 2019 recruit selected the Iowa Hawkeyes over offers from Iowa State, Minnesota, Syracuse, and Ball State. In high school, the defensive back/quarterback received all-state honors as a junior and senior as he amassed 210 tackles, 12 for loss, 11 interceptions, and six forced fumbles. Offensively, he was a dual threat with over 1,500 yards through the air and 1,000 on the ground for a total of 30 career touchdowns.

But it’s the defense. Oh, BOY, is it the defense.

His highlight reel is objectively old school. It features no less than two hits which leave the offensive player on the ground which, to be clear, I am not condoning. Castro plays at one speed - fast - and he plays football one way - hard. It’s hyperbole to invoke our lord and savior Demond, but there’s no other former Hawk to describe Castro’s game than Bob Sanders.

After taking the year of seasoning, he seems tailor-made to be a fan favorite on special teams in the 2020 season. Whether that translates into defensive playing time is a function of whether his mental acuity is in line with his physical ability and if a spot becomes available as Kaevon Merriweather seems destined for the first shot at strong safety.

Yet there are not many high school players whose tape stands out quite like Castro’s. If he sees the field, he’s likely to stand out.

Jackson Ritter, RS Freshman
Frankfort, IL (Lincoln-Way East)
6’3”, 208 lbs
2020 Projection: Reserve wide receiver

Ritter is a preferred walk-on from the 2019 class who selected the Hawks over opportunities from Illinois, Colorado, and Yale among others according to HawkeyeReport. He’s a legacy Hawkeye, as his mother played volleyball for Iowa back in the 90s.

In some recent iterations of Iowa’s wide receiver room, Ritter is the type of player who might emerge. He’s big and was used a variety of ways by his high school team - in the slot, out wide, as a tight end out of the three point stance - with impressive speed and good hands.

He might still break through in the coming years but has plenty of guys ahead of him he’d have to pass. If Iowa were thinking super long-term (and they might with 2020 as a year which doesn’t count against eligibility), Ritter might be someone to consider bulking up to 245 pounds and making a tight end out of him.