Oklahoma State football: James Castleman helps Cowboys stuff the run
Formerly committed to Texas Tech, sophomore tackle teams with Calvin Barnett to give OSU a dominant duo inside.
STILLWATER — James Castleman made a call to Glenn Spencer late in the 2011 recruiting season.
This time, Castleman had good news. The longtime Texas Tech commitment was reconsidering his decision and wanted to take a visit to Oklahoma State.
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Oklahoma State's rushing defense has improved dramatically this season, largely because of the boost Calvin Barnett and James Castleman have provided at defensive tackle.
Here's a breakdown of those numbers, and the personnel changes that have benefitted the Cowboys this season.
*99th in the nation in rushing defense (entering Game 10)
*195.56 rushing yards allowed per game (entering Game 10)
*42.15 opponent rushing attempts per game (season)
*4.4 yards allowed per rush (season)
*Tied for 26th in the nation in rushing defense
*129.22 yards allowed per game
*37 opponent rushing attempts per game
*3.5 yards allowed per rush
THE PLAYER MOVES
*Arrival of Calvin Barnett: The junior college transfer has been an immediate force.
*Ascension of James Castleman: A third-teamer at the start of fall camp rose to a starting spot and been steady throughout the season
*Depth at tackle: Reserves Anthony Rogers, Davidell Collins and Christian Littlehead are all experienced players.
*Move of Nigel Nicholas: Depth and talent inside allowed him to go back to his natural position of defensive end.
*Return of starting of linebackers: Veterans Shaun Lewis, Caleb Lavey and Alex Elkins all contribute to stopping the run.
By Gina Mizell
The news got even better a couple days later, when Castleman switched his pledge and signed with the Cowboys.
OSU is still thankful almost two years later, as Castleman and junior-college transfer Calvin Barnett have given the Cowboys arguably their best defensive tackle duo in a decade.
The position doesn't normally lend itself to gaudy stats. But Castleman has played a big role in OSU's improved run defense, which is tied for 26th in the nation (129.22 yards allowed per game) heading into Saturday's contest against Texas Tech.
“We take pride in that,” Castleman said. “Tearing up the (offensive) linemen, making them mad and then trying to hit the running back as hard as we can.”
What does host-turned-teammate Cooper Bassett most remember Castleman's decisive trip to Stillwater? It was a Sunday, which means there weren't a ton of entertainment options.
So Castleman suggested a friendly game of hoops at the Colvin Recreational Center on campus.
“I was pretty surprised a 260-pound kid could get up and dunk,” Bassett said. “He could move real well.”
It probably shouldn't have been surprising, given Castleman's two-sport stardom at Amarillo (Texas) High School. He left as the school's all-time leader in scoring and rebounding. On the football field, he was a dominant defensive lineman, and even the team's punter.
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