Few things bother Buff fans more than Colorado's special teams play in the Dan Hawkins era, specifically the last two years. It is no secret that place kicker Aric Goodman has struggled, hitting only 15 of 32 attempts (less than 50%) in 2008 and 2009. Last recruiting cycle, Colorado added Denver East High prep Zach Grossnickle as a punter/kicker combo and in the 2010 cycle, according to rivals.com's free player page, Colorado has received a verbal pledge from Arvada West (CO) K/P Justin Castor. Castor, who originally committed to the Kansas Jayhawks, is listed at 6'5" 180 pounds and supposedly has a great amount of athleticism. He was talking with Colorado St. about a possible track scholarship as he excelled in the triple jumper. He also plays basketball and starred as a receiver for the Arvada West Wildcats in addition to his kicking duties. Castor's Arvada West team reached the 5A state semi-finals this past season losing to the eventual state champions Mullen.
According to ESPN.com, "He is a tall (6-foot-4) kicker. He is an explosive athlete that has shown the ability to get great hang time on his KOs. His long levers allow him to hit FGs and KOs a long ways. An FBS staff that lands Castor will be very excited for him."
Our friend, denverjayhawk, over on Rock Chalk Talk had an extensive interview with Castor when he originally committed to Kansas. It is definitely worth your read. Here is a piece of the interview where Castor talks about his kickoffs and field goal ability:
My kickoffs have really increased this year in both hang times and distance. This summer I had numerous kickoffs that were 70+ yards with hang times around 4.5-4.75 seconds.
My field goal distance also increased during the off-season into the summer. In May of this year I was able to kick a 65 yard field goal in practice and I also managed to hit the crossbar at 70 yards, but couldnt quite make it.
According to the interview, Castor said his in-game long field goal was 53 yards. According to the Denver Post, before the state semi-finals, Castor was 14 of 24 on field goal attempts for the year but a few of those misses were due to the coaching staff giving him chances to kick from 69 yards because misses at the high school level means the opposition starts from the 20 yard line, not from the spot of the miss. He also averaged 42 yards a punt his senior season. He will probably be working mostly as a kicker but it wouldn't surprise me if he challenged for both positions.
Justin had other offers from Wyoming & Arizona State and was being recruited by Kansas State and Stanford. Rivals.com has him ranked as a 2* kicker, Scout.com has Castor ranked as the 22nd kicker in the nation and ESPN has him ranked as the 38th kicker. Justin was named the All-Colorado kicker by the Denver Post this past season as well.
According to the Chris Sailer School of Kicking, Sailer thinks Castor has a lot of potential:
Justin is an outstanding kicker. He is big, tall, strong, and athletic. Tons of potential here. Also has the size and build to develop as a punter. Fine young man and outstanding prospect. Has what it takes to play D1.
Here is a small clip of Castor kicking a 51 yard field goal at the 1:51 mark.
If Castor does indeed sign with the Buffs on signing day, Colorado will have three scholarship kickers/punters on the roster in redshirt freshman Zach Grossnickle and senior Aric Goodman. The Buffs graduated punter Matt DiLallo who averaged only 38.6 yards a punt last season. It is expected punting, kickoff and place kicking duties will be wide open this offseason with a potential of a few walk-ons joining the mix as well to try and gain a roster spot.