James Castleman’s success and fame gained at this year’s Cactus Bowl were once again a topic of conversation at Oklahoma State football’s pro day.
However, it wasn’t OSU coaches or players talking about the defensive lineman’s catches and wide receiver abilities. It was NFL scouts doing the talking and asking questions as Castleman continued to improve his draft stock since the season ended in early January.
“My bowl game may have come up a couple of times,” Castleman said. “They joke about it and ask if I’m training to be a running back or fullback. They joke about it so it’s pretty fun. I’ve gotten a little more hype for catching the ball than I have for defense. I think they were really impressed a big guy my size could catch the ball, let alone run with it.”
Castleman and Ofa Hautau, both defensive tackles for the Cowboys, were two names that drew attention in the weight room and on the practice field. Hautau bench pressed 225 pounds 28 times, plus a few that didn’t count because his arms weren’t locked, while Castleman completed 25 reps on the bench press.
The Cowboys were also measured in their 40-yard dash, shuttle drill, cone drill, vertical jump, broad jump and several physical properties such as height, weight and wing span.
“It feels like I’ve been in the grind since August,” Castleman said. “Finally, I got to put out everything I’ve been training for. Yesterday, I couldn’t even talk. I was stuttering every time I talked, because I was so excited and nervous at the same time. Because of that, I was able to get my jitters out and do what I did today. I feel great after this.”
Castleman admitted he has dropped about 16 pounds since the season ended. He’s began eating a healthier diet and worked out to prepare for Thursday. Castleman wasn’t invited to the NFL combine last month, so he’s been motivated to become slimmer, stronger and faster.
“Bowl week, I weighed like 315 and today I weighed 299,” Castleman said. “I never did anything out of the ordinary. It’s basically working on my diet and working out. My diet alone took care of my weight. I wanted to get down below 310, but because of my diet I was able to drop it really well.”
Castleman was one of 15 Cowboys who displayed some of their physical talents for a couple dozen NFL scouts in the OSU weight room at Boone Pickens Stadium and at Sherman E. Smith Training Center. For most Cowboys, playing professionally is a long shot, but a few drew attention from NFL personnel.
Josh Furman, who played linebacker at OSU and safety at Michigan, talked to a handful of scouts following his workout. Furman even took a long test for the Atlanta Falcons at the end of his day.
“I don’t know what type of test it was, but it had my brain hurting,” Furman said. “It was a pattern-type test. It’s been a full day. I’m tired now.”
Furman added that he expected to do well Thursday.
“I felt like I did good,” Furman said. “I’m just happy I came out and did what I had to do. I’ve worked three months for this and you get an opportunity like this, it’s like a job interview. I’ve worked all of my life for it, but I had to come out and show it.”
Other OSU players hope they made an impact or get a chance to showcase their talents after the NFL Draft, which begins April 30 and ends May 2. Running back Desmond Roland and Fullback Teddy Johnson are two such players.
“My dream is always to make the NFL, however I get there,” Roland said. “That’s always been my dream. I still believe in it and I’m not going to stop until the dream comes true.”
“The opportunity to play at the next level or even get invited to a camp is tremendous,” Johnson said. “It’s something I’ve always looked forward to. It would be a great experience to partake in.”