Casteel returns to WVU football staff
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Mention the 3-3-5 defense and many football fans in the state of West Virginia will jump to their feet and shout out “Jeff Casteel!”
Casteel was a defensive coach at Shepherd from 1988 through 1999, when the Rams won six WVIAC championships. He was the school’s defensive coordinator from 1991 through 1999.
Raised in Paden City and helping the town’s small high school to the Class A state championship in 1979, Casteel was no stranger to West Virginia.
At the age of 38, Casteel first moved to the Division I coaching ranks, when he left Shepherd for Texas-El Paso in 2000.
The next season, he joined WVU’s coaching staff, when hired by Rich Rodriguez as a defensive ends coach. Rodriguez was familiar with Casteel’s work, because the former WVU defensive back had coached at Salem when both the Tigers and Shepherd were members of the WVIAC.
In 2002, Casteel was named a co-defensive coordinator at WVU, and then in 2003 he was tabbed the defensive coordinator by himself.
By the completion of the 2007 season, Casteel’s Mountaineer defense was ranked seventh nationally in total defense.
Rodriguez went off to become the head coach at Michigan for the 2008 college football season, but Casteel remained in Morgantown to coach under new head coach Bill Stewart.
Following Stewart’s dismissal, Casteel stayed in Morgantown to coach under Dana Holgorsen for the 2011 season.
One year with Holgorsen was enough and Casteel went to the University of Arizona where Rodriguez had landed after losing his job at Michigan. West Virginia had just scored 70 points in beating Clemson in the Jan. 2012 Orange Bowl.
But in Jan. 2016, Arizona completed a coaching shakeup of its own and Casteel was out of a college coaching job. That year-long period without a coaching position was ended in December of 2016, when Nevada-Reno hired him as its defensive coordinator.
Leaving Nevada, Casteel was hired as a defensive analyst by head coach Neal Brown. In late July of this year, the coaching wheel was kept in motion again when West Virginia promoted him from a defensive analyst to an on-field post as an outside linebackers coach.
Now age 58, Casteel is back in the state and back at West Virginia. From Paden City to Shepherdstown to Morgantown . . . and now once more back in Morgantown for a second time and under a fourth head coach.
Casteel’s innovative 3-3-5 defense has been his most recognizable trademark. But he has won football games in bunches no matter where he has coached. And the Mountaineers hope to give him and their team another chance to show his wares when football is now scheduled to return on Sept. 12 and WVU has a date with Eastern Kentucky’s Colonels in Morgantown.