DeCastro an All-American lineman | December 16, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - December 16, 2011

DeCastro an All-American lineman

Luck, Martin make AP second team; Shaw up for another coach-of-the-year honor

by Rick Eymer

David DeCastro could have ended up playing rugby or soccer in South Africa, instead of knocking heads as an offensive lineman for the Stanford football team and protecting its quarterback, who spent his early childhood in Germany as a soccer fan.

DeCastro's parents, Colin and Jennifer, emigrated from South Africa and, after marrying, planned to return.

Had that occurred, David would have been born in South Africa and likely would have followed the path of his father and maternal grandfather — both of whom played rugby at the University of Cape Town.

But, that never happened. While DeCastro's mother was getting her masters degree from the University of Washington, his father received a job offer to remain in America. As a result, the family settled in Bellevue, a few miles from Husky Stadium.

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, David DeCastro excelled in swimming, baseball and basketball. He eventually settled in with football, found his way to Stanford and the rest, as they say, is history.

In a season filled with awards and honors, DeCastro added yet another to his growing resume as the redshirt junior right offensive guard was named a first team All-American by The Associated Press on Wednesday.

"We knew that he was as good as anybody in the nation coming into the year," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "He's had a phenomenal year. David is a great athlete."

Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck, who very well could have stayed with soccer, his first love, had he remained in Europe, and left tackle Jonathan Martin were named to the second team while tight end Coby Fleener earned third-team honors.

A consensus All-American, DeCastro also earned first team All-America honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation, American Football Coaches Association, Football Writers Association of America, along with AP. He was also a finalist for the Outland Trophy honoring the nation's top interior lineman.

DeCastro, one of Stanford's unquestioned leader and recognized as the heart and soul of its offensive line, has made 37 consecutive starts at his right guard position. This year's line allowed the ninth-fewest sacks in the nation while paving the way for a Cardinal running game that averaged 209 yards per game.

Stanford's offensive line has allowed just 22 sacks over the past three seasons with DeCastro in the lineup, while helping the ground attack average 214 yards.

Heisman Trophy recipient Robert Griffin III of Baylor was named AP's first-team quarterback. He is joined in the backfield by fellow Heisman finalists Montee Bell of Wisconsin and Trent Richardson of Alabama.

Luck was the recipient of the Walter Camp Football Foundation's Player of the Year and Maxwell Awards as the nation's top player. Martin is also a Walter Camp All-American and was a finalist for the Lombardi Award.

Fleener, who led the team in touchdown receptions with 10, earned third-team honors as a tight end.

DeCastro, Luck, Martin and Fleener will lead the Cardinal into the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2 against Oklahoma State.

The outcome of that game could help Stanford coach David Shaw earn some postseason recognition of his own after he was named one of 10 finalists for the Paul "Bear" Bryant Coach of the Year Award.

Shaw joins Bret Bielema of Wisconsin, Art Briles of Baylor, Mike Gundy of Oklahoma State, Brady Hoake of Michigan, Les Miles of LSU, Nick Saban of Alabama, Bill Snyder of Kansas State and Kevin Sumlin, formerly of Houston now with Texas A&M and Dabo Swinney of Clemson as finalists for this year's award.

In his first season as Stanford's head coach, and fifth overall, Shaw guided the Cardinal to its second straight 11-1 regular season record and its first back-to-back 10-win seasons in program history.

Under his leadership, the Cardinal has been ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll for a school-record 22 consecutive weeks, and reached No. 2 in the USA Today Coaches poll on Nov. 6.

Shaw beame just the ninth major college head coach in history to post 11 or more wins in his first season and the first since Chris Peterson (13-0) of Boise State and Bielema (12-1) of Wisconsin accomplished the feat in 2006.

The 26th annual Paul "Bear" Bryant Awards event is slated to take place on January 19 in Houston, Texas.

Shaw is also one of five regional FBS coaches of the year selected by the American Football Coaches Association, and is a finalist for national coach of the year honors from that organization.


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