Luis Castillo Unleashed

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Johnny Lightning

Go Bolts
Feb 7, 2006
Charger Football Xtra
By Bo Navarro & Forrest Overin

You can understand that the last 14 months have been a whirlwind for Chargers’ Defensive End Luis Castillo.

Besides the usual hubbub of the combine and private workouts that prospects go through leading up the NFL draft, Castillo had the stress and upheaval of recovering from a tricep injury, and the fallout that ensued from testing positive for a banned supplement that he had taken in an attempt to accelerate the process of healing.
The questions and concerns that subsequently arose caused Luis’ draft stock to fall. Initially projected to be selected in the range of #15 to #25 overall, many believed that the 6-3, 305 pound Castillo might drop as far as the draft’s third round. But as you’re aware, A.J. Smith claimed the All-American with the 28th overall pick of last year’s draft, and now, barely more than a year later, you’d be hard pressed to locate a Charger fan who isn’t dileriously happy to have the Northwestern grad on board in San Diego.

Clearly grateful to have been given the benefit of the doubt by the Chargers’ organization, Castillo produced a strong rookie season that exceeded expectations in almost every way possible. Athletic and remarkably nimble for a man of his dimensions, Luis continually raised his game over the course of the season and has become one of the most prominent factors in the improved fortunes of the Bolts’ defense.

Most college players suit up for a maximum of 10 games over the course of a season, so after taking the field for 16 games as an NFL rookie (not to mention four pre-season contests), it’s no surprise that Luis was overdue for some recovery time in the offseason.

Castillo was exceptionally generous with his time, sitting down to discuss with CFX his reflections on his rookie year, and his thoughts about the upcoming season.

“I took a solid month and a half off before I started working out again,” the affable giant explained. “The season just takes so much out of you that you need time to recover and rest.”

He paid a visit to his native Dominican Republic a notoriously sports-crazy island nation, where he discovered he’s viewed as a celebrity, despite the fact that American football is only fractionally as popular there as baseball.

“It was great,” he said with a laugh. “I met the President and did about 20 TV interviews. I’m the first Dominican to ever play in the NFL.”

This makes Luis somewhat of a pioneer, even though he never really viewed himself that way. He credits his extended family for their endless support and encouragement along the way.

“As far back as I can remember, my family has always been supportive,” he said. My mother, aunts, and uncles always told me that I’d do something great in this world, that I’d be successful. All those positive words made me work harder so I wouldn’t let them down.”

Clearly, Luis was inspired by the example set by his family, especially his mother.

“My mom worked SO hard, and we came from no money, so I wanted to do things to make her and my family look good,” he explained regarding his motivation in applying himself so relentlessly. “I didn’t want all her hard work to go to waste.”

The message that Castillo hopes his example sets for kids is this:

“Be responsible and accountable, whether it’s in life, or on the sports field. Always go into what you’re doing prepared. Do NOT go in UNprepared. It’s like with our football team- I have a responsibility to know the plays, the strategy for each and every game, and to keep my eyes on the goal. Never go to school, or into a test situation, without being prepared. It all comes down to accountability.”

Having had the winter and spring to relax and recharge, Luis is now in the process of ramping himself up for the season ahead. The team just completed its ‘Offseason Coaching Sessions’ and mini camp, and now training camp is just a month away.

“When mini camp starts, it the sign that the season is right around the corner,” he said. “You have your routine of running, lifting and film work. It’s a time to learn, and get used to the environment again without the pressure that comes with the season. It’s a good time to break down your own technique, and focus on improving.”

As for the season ahead, Castillo exudes an excitement and enthusiasm that is contagious.

“We have a big emphasis as a (D-line) group to get to the quarterback this year,” he explained. “It was an adjustment (last year) learning the 3-4, after being a tackle in the 4-3 alignment in college. I am 10 times better than last year- I’m quicker, I’m 10 pounds lighter, my technique has improved, and I’m more efficient with my moves.”

Luis also makes it clear that, while statistics aren’t irrelevant, the focus is on what the entire unit can accomplish together.

“In the 3-4, D-linemen don’t necessarily get the flashy stats, but we are a defensive unit that works as ONE,” he continued. “Whether it’s the D-line, the linebackers, or the defensive backs, we work as a unit, with a common objective. I truly believe that we have one of the best Front Sevens in the league. It’s amazing how much more efficient we are working as a team now. As a unit, it’s not about who has the stats, or achieving personal goals. When we’re successful as a unit, the numbers and personal goals will take care of themselves.”

It wasn’t necessarily visible to fans who were observing last year, but Luis struggled to find himself and his game early on.

“At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t ready to be a starter,” he acknowledged. “Igor got hurt in the second game, and I came in and started each game after that. My game was nowhere near full speed. I was thinking a lot, rather than reacting to blocks as I should. In football, when you’re thinking a lot, the mind slows the body down. After each game, I’d watch the film and constantly say, ‘Man, I should have made that play’, or ‘Man, that was a sack if only I hadn’t wasted a step’.”

As Castillo remembers, it was eight games into the season before he began to feel like he had hit his rhythm. More and more frequently, plays that he had barely missed making became plays he WAS making. As a rookie, he collected three sacks and had 35 quarterback pressures, but he is confident that he’s primed to surpass those totals in 2006.

“As a defensive end in the 3-4, you’re playing really well if you achieve eight sacks. That’s pretty much the standard. There’s no doubt in my mind that I’m a couple of steps quicker now, so my expectations for this season are pretty high.”

If you’re a Charger fan, that, my friend, is music to your ears!


Well-Known Member
Feb 14, 2006
The brothers at CFX are knocking them dead.

Hats off to Forrest Overin (he used to write for the Chargers Football Weekly magazine) and LT_21 for the efforts.

These guys are a MUST READ. :yes: :tup:

If fans have any stones or give a shiit about the Chargers, you have to read this stuff. It is that good. :rockout: :thumbup: :icon_guitar: :icon_bow:


Carpe Diem et omni Mundio
Staff member
Super Moderator
Jan 19, 2006
San Diego, CA
its an outstanding article and they do a great job asking good questions to the big names in Chargers football. My hat's are off to them; we might be competing with them but when they do greaT WORK like that you gotta take your hat off to them


#GoIrish #Aztecs #SDGulls #Raiders #THFC #RipCity
Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA
PostAnteaterCharger said:
its an outstanding article and they do a great job asking good questions to the big names in Chargers football. My hat's are off to them; we might be competing with them but when they do greaT WORK like that you gotta take your hat off to them
Yup they do fantasic work. I don't see them as competition at all, but another great site in the Charger family.