Year in Coaching: 32nd
Year at Arizona: Fourth
Veteran defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel is in his fourth season as a member of the Arizona staff under head coach Rich Rodriguez. He also coaches the Wildcat linebackers.
With more than 30 years of coaching experience, Casteel was Rivals' 2007 Defensive Coordinator of the Year and its 2008 Big East Coordinator of the Year. Also a two-time nominee for the Broyles Award during his tenure in Tucson, he has coached in 14 bowl games.
Under Casteel’s tutelage in 2014, Scooby Wright III was easily the nation’s most prolific defender. Based on a vote of head coaches, media and college athletics personnel, he won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Rotary Lombardi Award and the Chuck Bednarik Award, all given annually to the nation’s top defender. Also the Pat Tillman Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, he ranked in the top five among FBS players for total tackles (163), tackles for loss (29.0), sacks (14.0) and forced fumbles (6). Wright is UA’s sixth all-time unanimous All-American.
UA forced 22 turnovers in nine Pac-12 regular season games. The Cats scored 104 points off turnovers, including four defensive touchdowns. In three years under Casteel, UA is 18-4 when forcing multiple turnovers.
Arizona’s total defense improved by nearly 100 yards per game (fifth-most improved defense in the country), giving up 499 yards per game in 2012 to 401.1 yards per game in 2013. The Wildcats had five interception returns for touchdowns, tied for most among FBS teams in 2013. UA intercepted 18 passes in 2013, its most in a single campaign since totaling 16 in 2008.
The Wildcats defeated then-No. 5 Oregon on Nov. 23, 2013. Arizona’s defense held the Ducks to less than 200 yards rushing. Prior to Oregon’s loss at Stanford on Nov. 7, 2013, the last time an Oregon player did not rush for 100 yards was at home vs. Arizona on Sept. 22, 2012. UA’s defense held Oregon to its lowest point total of the season (16) and the lowest since Nov. 17, 2012, also against Stanford (14-17 loss). UA’s defense limited Oregon to 1-for-5 on third-down conversion attempts in the first half. The Ducks finished 6-for-12 but were 1-for-3 on fourth-down attempts.
Wright III turned in a sterling rookie campaign as a starter. He finished the season with 83 total tackles, a tally that ranked second-most nationally among all true freshman defenders. For the second-straight season, Jake Fischer paced the Wildcats in total tackles with 99. In his final campaign, he scored a touchdown on a 49-yard interception return at UNLV and posted a career-high 14 tackles in UA’s upset win over No. 5 Oregon.
In 2012, Arizona’s defense was led by Fischer, an All-Pac-12 honorable mention and CoSIDA Academic All-District honoree. Fischer ranked third in the Pac-12 in total tackles with 76 and 9.2 per game. Cornerback Shaquille Richardson ranked fourth in the league and No. 16 nationally in passes broken up with 14. Safety Jared Tevis also earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention nods.
Casteel was defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at West Virginia during the 2003-11 seasons and spent the 2002 season in Morgantown as co-coordinator. He worked with the defensive line at WVU in 2001 and as defensive ends coach at UTEP in 2000. He was part of a WVU staff that led the Mountaineers to an average of 10 victories per season from 2006-11, two of those under Rich Rodriguez.
His multiple spread defense, the 3-3-5, normally uses three down linemen and at times up to half a dozen defensive backs. His 2011 version helped the Mountaineers contain a potent Clemson offense and beat the Tigers, 70-33, in the 2012 Orange Bowl, with four turnovers gained, one for a score.
Among some of Casteel's noteworthy defenses at WVU were units that were No. 4 nationally in turnover margin in 2003; No. 7 nationally in turnover margin and No. 15 in total defense in 2005; best in the Big East and No. 13 nationally in rushing defense and 25th in turnover margin in 2006; No. 7 in total defense, No. 8 in scoring defense, No. 9 in turnover margin and top-20 marks in sacks and rushing defense in 2007; No. 11 in scoring defense and top-20 marks in turnover margin and pass efficiency defense in 2008; and No. 3 nationally in total defense in 2010.
He was the defensive line and strength coach at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W. Va., in 1989 and 1990 and assistant head coach and defensive coordinator from 1991-99 at Shepherd before moving to Division I football at UTEP. Shepherd teams won West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles six times while he was assistant head coach.
He began his coaching career at California University in Pennsylvania as a graduate assistant from 1984-86, and then coached the defensive line at Palmetto High School in Miami, Fla. for a year.
Casteel and his wife, Rosemary, have two children, Jacob and Sarah. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from California University (Pa.).