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NFL Draft Diamonds Prospect Interview: Robert Castaneda, OL, Utah State University

Robert Castaneda of Utah State is a big boy with a mean streak

2018 Accolades

  • 2018 All-Mountain West Football Honorable Mention.

What is your name?

  • Robert James Castaneda.

Where do you play college football?

  • Utah State University.

What position do you play?

  • I can and have played every position on the line. currently, I am slotted at right guard, but I can shift anywhere on a moment’s notice.

What is your height/weight?

  • 6’5″ 305lbs.

Did you play other sports growing up? If so, what were they? 

  • I come from a family of athletes and played a lot of different sports growing up. My 9-year-old brother, Caleb is not only a great football player, but he is also winning all these swimming tournaments and he just took that sport up. My 5-year-old cousin, Jack is already playing on a team up in Portland and his skating and shooting skills are incredible. My 7-year-old cousin, LaVelle is in figure skating and also rides BMX bikes. Not to mention, my dad played football in high school and at the semi-pro level up until a few years ago.
  • As for me, football was always primary and I started playing at 5, but I draw from a lot of influences and it shows in my game. When I was very young, I would play street football with my dad and uncles and they would have no mercy on me. They would play with a regulation size NFL ball, bomb passes to me and my brothers and run full speed at us. Intercepting our passes, not letting us move the ball and stripping the ball away if we weren’t holding it tight. That helped me up my game and taught me to compete hard just to keep up. They would even trash talk us when we were little kids! My uncle would run back a pick 6 taunting us all the way down the street. Really just teaching us how to compete hard and not let our guards down. I think they knew we would face that at higher levels and wanted us to be ready. That catch I had against Wisconsin last year was pure street football, it was just instinct for me to come down with the tipped ball and move forward to get the extra yards for the first down.
  • I also remember playing basketball with my uncle on a lowered rim. He would reject all my shots as hard as he could and windmill jam the ball so hard it would knock the entire hoop over. I had to learn how to pass in those games and it definitely taught me to think strategically so we could keep the ball away from him. I wanted to keep him from dunking on us and yelling out SHORYUKEN!!! from Street Fighter.
  • My uncle also loves hockey and he used to take us to a lot of games growing up. I never played, but I watched how those guys were warriors and stood up for their teammates when something cheap happened. Some people don’t like the fighting, but they’re defending themselves and their teammates and that stuck with me. They police themselves and I like that. If you cheap shot someone in hockey, you’re going to answer for it. I’ve applied that same nastiness and hard edge to my game and defend my teammates no matter what.
  • We loved to compete and made up our own sports too. We had one called “Tramp Ball” that was my favorite. It started as normal basketball, then we added in hockey checks and football tackles to get the ball, then we took it a step further and rolled the hoop into the backyard where we had a trampoline. A shot from the trampoline was worth 10 points, but it was also free for all zone, so basically, WWE up there until you got your shot off. That game was so fun and so intense!
  • Competitively, I also played baseball (1 year)  and select travel basketball (8 years). It really helped with my footwork, cardio and seeing the field in football.

Who is the toughest player you have competed against in college?

  • Mike Hughes: UNLV.
  • Olive Sagapolu: Wisconsin.
  • Chikwe Obasih: Wisconsin.
  • David Moa: Boise State.

Are you listening to music before a game? If so, what? 

  • Skrillex.
  • Wintersun.
  • ASAP Rocky.
  • Pro Era.
  • Drake.
  • Travis Scott.
  • Waka Flocka Flame.
  • Classical Music.

Do you have superstitions?

  • I definitely have superstitions. I think all high performers in every walk of life do as a way to focus themselves. I have the same routine every game from the moment I wake up to right before kick off. I put 2 water bottles near my bed, eat the same breakfast, head to the team walk through, take a shower, take a nap, go over my game notes, head to the stadium, thank God, then pick up a pinch full of turf beads, throw them and go back to the locker room to listen to music. I even wear the same socks every game. One week, I wore different socks by accident and played better, so naturally, the routine changed!

Who is your role model and why?

  • I draw from different people. My primary role model is my father. He’s the one who introduced me to the game of football. He works his butt off every day and seeing the blood sweat and tears it took to raise my brothers and I was amazing to me. I want to make him proud.
  • Le Raven Clark is another one. I played with him at Tech and now he’s with the Indianapolis Colts. He taught me a lot. I always observed how he prepared. From stretching to running warm ups, he always looked like a pro. He played with so much effort and to this day we talk and he gives me good tips and reminders. I’m lucky to call him a friend.
  • Steve Farmer, my Offensive Line Coach has been another great role model. He had faith in me and gave me chance from day 1. He gives me good advice and always guides me in the right direction. He’s genuinely a good hearted man who I will never forget. I know he has my back and he always fights for his players.

While in college, what has been your favorite and least favorite class?

  • My favorite class in college has been psychology. I love learning about how the brain works and applying it to my performance behaviors. Having this knowledge has helped me get in the proper mindset so I can go out and perform at my best. Algebra is the class that takes the most time and effort for me. It’s all black and white and not subject to interpretation like psychology and ethics are, which is how I like to think.

Outside of football, what has been your favorite experience while in college?

  • Probably learning to live on my own as an adult and doing what it takes to survive on my own. One of my favorite recent experiences was when the O-Line took a river rafting trip in Idaho. The water was super cold, but it was really hot out, so it felt amazing. That was a point when I felt like we really gained chemistry and started to become a true unit. 

Growing up, who was your favorite NFL team and player and why?

  • My favorite NFL team has always been the Kansas City Chiefs and my favorite player as a kid was the human joystick, Dante Hall. I have never seen anyone accelerate from a dead stop like that. All those crazy jukes and cuts he made were so fun to watch!

If you could be in any movie of your choice, what would it be & what character would you play?

  • Definitely Lord of the Rings. I would be Legolas because he is just the most bad-ass character in a movie I’ve ever seen. All the guys on the O-line are fans and we even quote lines from it during games.

If you could have dinner with 3 people dead or alive, who would it be?

  1. Tony Gonzalez.
  2. Kobe Bryant.
  3. Vince Lombardi.

If you could meet any historical figure, who would you choose and why?

  • Ghandi would be good. His wisdom was so pure and full of life. I would love to be able to take that in and use it. Abraham Lincoln is another one. He had to hold together a country that was falling apart and had a hard personal life all at the same time. It would be interesting to see how a person gets through the stress and comes out on the other side.

Who is your favorite superhero and why?

  • Without a doubt the Hulk. He personifies a football player. Bruce Banner was a normal guy until he had to jump into action. When the time calls for it, look out. He turns savage and crushes everything. That’s exactly what I do when I step on the field.

What is your definition of hard work?

  • My definition of hard work is having the ability to push through the hardest and toughest adversity that’s in front of you. Being able to have that drive mentally and physically when times are at its hardest point and never giving up. I also try to work while other people are sleeping. That’s like bonus time.

What is the most unexpected lesson you learned while in college?

  • I didn’t take a straight path to get here. I started in Texas, went to JUCO in a remote part of Iowa and then found my way to Logan, which I’m thankful for. I failed, but didn’t give up and found my own path to success. It wasn’t what I planned on, but I made it work and I’m happy to have experienced living in this part of the country and going to USU. I guess I learned that when you fail there is always a new opportunity to get up and try again.

What is something you wish you could tell yourself as a High School Freshman?

  • Probably to balance my time better. I would tell myself to focus on school and stay around good influences. 

Why do you wear #70?

  • I’ve worn 70 since I was 6 years old. My dad wore 70 when he played football and it’s become a tradition for my family. 70 is the numerical version of my name.

What is the best part of your hometown of Round Rock, TX

  • Hometown feelings and memories I guess. My family, friends, the familiar sights. It also has Pluckers, my all time favorite restaurant.

Who would you choose, Jordan, LeBron or Kobe? Why?

  • Choosing between Jordan, Kobe, and LeBron is tough. You can never take away what any of those guys did on the court and especially off the court. Jordan was the first icon with all those championships. LeBron is the most well-rounded player but has the least championships. He looks like a football player, passes like Steve Nash or Magic Johnson and can score from anywhere. Kobe was an assassin. He could take over any game and I think he dropped 80 once. I saw him make a three point buzzer beater while falling out of bounds before. They’re all incredible, but Jordan is the GOAT.

Are you a PS4 or Xbox One guy? What games are you playing right now?

  • I am an Xbox guy. I play Fortnite, Star Wars Battlefront, Rocket League, Call of Duty, FIFA, Madden 2k.

What has been your most memorable moment as a student athlete?

  • Getting my degree in December will be the most memorable moment. I’ve also been able to play in two bowl games and blocked on the winning trick play when Texas Tech beat the Longhorns in Austin on Thanksgiving 2015. Smacking BYU around with my family in attendance last year was cool too. My favorite memory was going to help kids at a camp though. Seeing the looks on their faces when I would help, coach and praise them was priceless. There’s nothing like inspiring the youth, I mean they’re our next generation!

If you could have three wishes granted, what would they be?

  • I don’t know if I believe in getting wishes, because it means having something given to you for nothing. That’s not real life. You get what you want with some skill and tons of hard work. Successful people don’t wish for things. One of my best friends died in a car crash a few years back. I guess I would like to talk to him one last time before he found peace in heaven.

What is your hidden talent?

  • I come from a very musical family. Multiple people on both sides of my family have been performing musicians and recording artists. Not on a mainstream level, but they did it and each one of them played a completely different style of music from one another, which is probably why I like so many kinds of music. It’s in my blood and I love writing lyrics, rapping, and free-styling. You have to think on your feet and tap creative parts of your brain. It’s fun and a good way to express different emotions. I work hard to be the best at it. I’m also really good at home improvement projects and working with my hands.

If there is a book written about Rob Castaneda, what is the title? 

  • “A Road of Adversity. Fallen and Risen.”

What are three things on your bucket list?

  1. Travel the world.
  2. Work towards becoming financially secure and helping those less fortunate.
  3. Meet different artists I admire and learn about their processes. How do they make high performance look easy?

Are you binge watching anything on Netflix or Hulu right now?

  • Yes! It’s a good way to unwind and recharge your brain.
  1. The 100.
  2. The Office.
  3. Stranger Things.
  4. Last Chance U.

If you had one free hour each day, how would you choose to use it?

  • It depends on the day, but by and large, being a student-athlete occupies a lot of time and an opportunity to recharge helps. Mid-day naps are really healthy and I would like to have an hour every day for them. Playing video games with my friends is fun too. When I do have extra time, I spend it in the film room. As I said, it’s bonus time for me to work while others are sleeping.

If you could pancake block any NFL DL past or present, who would it be and why?

  • Aaron Donald. In my opinion, he’s the best of the best and I love a challenge.

What are the goals for 2018, both individually & for the Utah State Football Team?

  • I’ve thought about this a lot going into the season. My personal goal is to earn a 3.5 or better GPA this last semester before I walk in December. I also aim to earn all-Mountain West Conference and all American honors.
  • My team goal is to do everything I can to help us win the Mountain West championship and play in a big bowl game. I also want to put us on the map in the state of Utah. This state is filled with great people and there’s a great history in this state. Hardworking pioneers who did it their way. I want the Aggies to represent Utah. The team in Provo and the team in Salt Lake get most of the attention, but we aim to turn some heads from Logan to St. George. We have something to prove.

If you could give NFL scouts 3 words to describe the type of man they’re getting in Rob Castaneda, what would they be? 

  1. Old Time Tough.
  2. Hardworking.
  3. Loyal.

What inspires you?

  • My family. I love them with all my heart. They have seen me fail and I have seen them fail. But together we continue to stand up and continue to fight no matter what the situation is. I’m also inspired and driven by success. Failure is a learning process and as long as you keep at it, you will be better than you were yesterday. If you keep at anything, you will succeed.
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