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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona hires Casteel to run D

Arizona hires Casteel to run D

During his first press conference as Arizona’s new head coach, Rich Rodriguez said he hoped to fill out his coaching staff by Christmas.

Rodriguez’s staff came 17 days tardy but was well worth the wait.

After weeks of speculation, it was announced Wednesday afternoon that former West Virginia defensive coordinator and heralded defensive mind Jeff Casteel would join his former colleague in Tucson as Arizona’s defensive coordinator.

Rodriguez also hired David Lockwood (WVU) as his defensive backs coach, Bill Kirelawich (WVU) as his defensive line coach, and Spencer Leftwich (Pittsburgh) as his tight ends coach, finally filling out Arizona’s staff.

“We are very excited to have Jeff, David, Bill and Spencer, and their families, join our family here at the University of Arizona,” Rodriguez said in a release. “They are not only great coaches, but great people who bring a lot of quality experience and knowledge to our staff.”

Casteel is the biggest hire of the four, bringing a wealth of experience to the Old Pueblo in the one area where Rodriguez has proven deficient. Casteel had served as the Mountaineers’ defensive coordinator since 2003 and has a handful of accolades, including being named the 2008 Big East Coordinator of the Year, and 2010 Rivals Defensive Coordinator of the Year.

He coached top-10 defenses in both 2007 and 2010 and quickly earned a reputation for his 3-3-5 defensive scheme. Casteel coached under Rodriguez at West Virginia from 2003 to 2007, and Rodriguez tried to lure Casteel to Michigan as his defensive coordinator.

Casteel wouldn’t budge back in 2007, but he couldn’t turn down Rodriguez’s offer to come to Tucson. While Casteel found most of his success at West Virginia, he’s been coaching for 28 years, 11 of which included bowl seasons.

He coached for 10 years at Shepherd University from 1988-1999 and at UTEP in 2000. Casteel also coached at the Morgantown University in 2002.

While Casteel is certainly the biggest catch of the four, Lockwood, Kirelawich and Leftwich bring impressive pedigrees as well.

Lockwood was the defensive backs coach at WVU for the past four seasons, after coaching the position at Kentucky in 2007. In addition to WVU and Kentucky, the Mountaineer graduate also coached at Minnesota, Notre Dame, Memphis, James Madison and Delaware.

While Lockwood’s been all over the map, Kirelawich has been at West Virginia since 1979. He’s coached both the defensive line and linebackers during that tenure, making a name for himself due to his work with the WVU d-line.

Leftwich is the only non-West Virginia hire of this batch and joins Calvin Magee and Tony Dews from Pittsburgh, both of who were hired before Christmas. Before last season with Pitt, Leftwich coached at Tulsa from 2003-06 then returned in 2010 after coaching at North Texas from 2007-09. He also coached at New Mexico State in 1992-93 and Stephen F. Austin from 1989-91.

Casteel and Kirelawich are hoping to rebuild an Arizona defense that ranked dead last in the Pac-12 in total defense last season, while Leftwich will add his knowledge to what’s expected to be a potent Wildcat offense.

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