James Castleman, DT. It's a rarity when a freshman cannot only play, but produce on the interior of the defensive front. Castleman shapes up as that rare freshman. “Castleman is playing better than we thought he would at this time. He'll definitely be playing,” said defensive coordinator Bill Young. “He's had some excellent high school coaching, and he's a tough young man who will fight through a little adversity. And when he gets tired, he doesn't shut it down. He's been pushed in high school, and he's got the size – he's 290 pounds, he's 6-3 – he's what you're looking for.”
Ryan Simmons, LB. When backup middle linebacker Tyler Johnson was lost to a minor knee injury, it created an opportunity for Simmons in practice. And he seized his chance, showing that he can provide depth. He should also be a plus on special teams.
Nico Ornelas, LB. Quietly, Ornelas produced a solid camp and put himself into play on Joe DeForest's special teams. Expected to compete for a linebacker spot down the road, special teams will allow him to adjust to the speed of the game.
On the Bubble
David Glidden, WR. The diminutive wideout has been impressive so far. But with so many receivers jockeying for time, the Cowboys would hate to burn a redshirt for a minor role.
Mike Mustafa, DT. Coaches love the long-term potential of Mustafa, but he's still adjusting to the college game.
Kris Catlin, LB. If depth becomes an issue, he could be forced into play. But a redshirt is preferred.
Isaac McCoy, WR. Like Glidden, had a strong camp, but is caught in the logjam.