The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa defensive back Sebastian Castro trusts the process and is playing with confidence

Castro has patiently worked his way up to a starting position on one of the best defenses in the nation.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Iowa defensive back Sebastian Castro prepares to tackle Utah State running back Davon Booth during a football game between No. 25 Iowa and Utah State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Aggies, 24-14.

Iowa defensive back Sebastian Castro is the epitome of trusting the process. 

The fifth-year was a three-star recruit and garnered an offer from just four Power Five programs. In his first few seasons at Iowa, he lived in the shadows behind defensive stars Cooper DeJean, Kaevon Merriweather, and Jack Campbell. 

But now every Hawkeye fan knows Castro’s name as his 30-yard interception return for a touchdown was the difference in Iowa’s 20-13 win over in-state rival Iowa State on Sept. 9. 

His pick-six marked the 16th consecutive season that an Iowa defender has returned an interception for a touchdown — the second-longest active streak in the nation behind Utah.

His performance against the Cyclones, which included four tackles and one pass breakup, earned the Oak Lawn, Illinois, product his first-ever Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honor. 

“It felt like practice. Everything was slowed down,” Castro said of his interception against Iowa State. “It’s something I’m never going to forget. I saw the ball coming real slow, caught it, and then brought it home.”

Castro played both quarterback and defensive back at Oak Lawn’s Richards High School. 

The dynamic athlete committed to the Hawkeyes on April 25, 2018, choosing Iowa over programs like Iowa State, Minnesota, Northern Illinois, Ball State, Eastern Michigan, and Indiana.

Castro finished his senior season in high school with 95 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, and six interceptions and was named Player of the Year by The Reporter and Daily Southtown. He also received first-team All-State honors from the Champaign News-Gazette as a junior and senior.

Castro redshirted at Iowa in 2019 and appeared briefly in just one Hawkeye game during the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season. He saw action in all 14 contests in 2021 but only racked up six tackles. It wasn’t until last season that Castro started to break out of his shell and show what he was capable of. 

He exclusively played on special teams in the first two games of the 2022 season. Cornerback Terry Roberts then suffered an injury which moved DeJean to corner and gave Castro the opportunity to come in and play the CASH position where he started seven contests.

The CASH position is a combination of defensive back and linebacker that requires the agility and awareness to handle both the pass and run game.

Current Tennessee Titans safety Amani Hooker and New York Giants safety Dane Belton played the CASH position under Iowa defensive coordinator Phil Parker.

Castro ended the season with a bang against Kentucky in the TransPerfect Music City Bowl. He registered five tackles, two pass breakups, a sack, and a tackle for loss in the Hawkeyes’ 21-0 shutout win over the Wildcats. 

Castro said that during the bowl game, he felt comfortable and that he was finally “getting into [his] own skin.” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz agreed that during the contest against Kentucky, Castro looked more confident and poised than he ever had before and is now playing at a much faster pace and with a more decisive mind. 

“You just never know when a guy’s going to start hitting stride. But when they do, it’s fun,” Ferentz said. “It’s fun for them. And it’s fun to watch them feel like they’re starting to get it.”

Castro won Iowa’s Next Man in Award last season, which exemplifies a team player who is willing to step in at all times. 

The 5-foot-11, 205-pounder is known among the team as an aggressive hard-hitter. Ferentz recalled how Castro was a “missile” on the special teams unit while DeJean complimented Castro’s growth from last year and his ability to fly to the ball. 

“He can really do it all,” DeJean said. 

Now a veteran on the defense, Castro always tries to set an example for the underclassmen and practices each day like it’s his last. He currently has nine tackles on the season, including two for a loss.

“I think it’s just how he practices every day. He practices with a purpose,” Hawkeye defensive end Joe Evans said. “And it’s just always fun to see because every time I go on the practice field, I know Castro is going to be giving it his all.”

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About the Contributors
Kenna Roering, Sports Editor
Kenna Roering is The Daily Iowan's sports editor. She is a junior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism with a minor in sports and recreation management. Kenna previously worked as a sports reporter for men's wrestling and volleyball and was the summer sports editor in 2023. This is her second year with the DI.
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.