When his cell phone rang, Steelers first-round draft pick David DeCastro took a quick look, saw it was from a 412 area code and immediately wondered what was going on.
“I was kind of confused,” said DeCastro. “I was thinking why is someone from a Pennsylvania number calling me when the Cleveland Browns were on the clock.”
DeCastro was watching coverage of the NFL Draft and like many others was awaiting the announcement of the Browns pick, the 22nd overall in the draft. The Browns selection was already in, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had yet to announce it at the podium at Radio City Music Hall for the TV audience. The Detroit Lions who were selecting 23rd overall also had their pick in, so the Steelers were officially on the clock at that point.
“They said it was the Steelers,” said DeCastro. “I couldn’t put it together for a second. But I guess they were ahead so much and knew what was going on.
“It is nerve-racking until that moment. The heartbeat goes up and you are checking your phone, waiting for the call, wondering is my phone on. But when the call came in, it was pretty cool. There was a lot of excitement.”
But there wasn’t a lot of time to celebrate. DeCastro was watching the draft back at Stanford, at the home of a family he spends summers with. His family was with him, including his parents Colin and Jennifer DeCastro who are originally from South Africa. As soon as he got off the phone, he hugged his mom, enjoyed a little bit of the hoopla, and then started packing to head to Pittsburgh on a redeye flight out of San Jose, California.
“I left there on a 10:45 flight and got in to Atlanta around 6:00 this morning,” said DeCastro. “I left on a 7:30 a.m. flight to Pittsburgh from there. The planes get smaller every time I step on them. It’s been a long day. I didn’t sleep at all. It’s just adrenaline now.”
DeCastro’s first time in Pittsburgh began with him enjoying the breathtaking view when you come through the Ft. Pitt Tunnels and see the city for the first time, something he videotaped after people at the airport clued him in.
It was then a whirlwind at the team’s practice facility, meeting coaches, staff and being introduced to the media during a press conference.
And of course, it was hard for him to miss seeing the team’s six Super Bowl trophies, something that impressed him even though the Super Bowl 40 trophy was won at the expense of his favorite team growing up, the Seattle Seahawks. Rest assured, he is no longer a Seahawks fan and his goal is to continue the Steelers winning tradition.
“It’s one of those things that you have to protect that tradition as a member of the Steelers,” said DeCastro. “It’s a great tradition at that. I am happy to be a part of it. I tried to go into the draft with no expectations and be happy with wherever I went and I was definitely extremely happy. It still hasn’t hit me yet. There is a lot of relief to have a team now and a great one in that, a great organization. I am just so happy to take the next step, the next chapter in my football career.”
Growing up DeCastro was like many young kids who dreamt of being a professional athlete. But at a young age it certainly didn’t seem like the NFL was a reality. His parents, Jennifer and Colin DeCastro are from South Africa where his father played rugby and cricket. As a kid growing up in Bellevue, Washington, his mother didn’t let him play football so instead he opted for baseball and basketball. It wasn’t until he attended Bellevue High School that football came into play and even mom was on board then.
“When I started playing in high school my mom made it a point to educate herself about the game,” said DeCastro. “She read the ‘Football for Dummies’ book. She went to clinics for moms for learning all the basics. She is now all into it. Every time I see her she is talking about a new rule she learned or a new penalty. She will have questions and I will explain it to her. She is pretty good though. When she wants to learn things, she will.
“My dad was an athlete growing up, playing rugby and cricket. They are different sports, but he understands sports. There is a global understanding of sports with athletes. He knows the basics, but there are plenty of techniques he doesn’t have a clue about. I probably understand rugby about as well as he understands football. Rugby is pretty simple though. Cricket, it’s pretty confusing. You hit the ball, but it’s weird.”
While he still has a lot of learning ahead of him on the NFL level, his intelligence and aggressive style of play will definitely be an asset.
“I am just someone that does what he is told and protects the quarterback and moves the ball and the line of scrimmage and doesn’t worry about attention, just does his job,” said DeCastro. “That is the key, just do your job.
“Just the few months leading up to the draft there is so much stuff going on, but you remind yourself that’s all it comes back to football. That is the most important part. That is the key, football.”