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Brian Castello: Calling in plays earns back-up quarterback airtime

Laura Myers | Thursday, November 11, 2010

Notre Dame’s backup quarterbacks signal plays with dynamic and often humorous gestures. But Bryan Castello’s favorite sign is more subdued.

“The victory kneel,” the senior walk-on said. He demonstrated the sign by raising his right hand with his middle and ring fingers in the air, thumb and index finger together and pinkie folded.

“It’s the signal of the Red Army, which is what we call the quarterbacks. And we won, so we get to do the victory kneel.”

Castello nearly always stands to the direct left of Irish coach Brian Kelly when Notre Dame is on offense, and is caught on TV often when the cameras look to the sidelines for Kelly.

“We move it around, but more often than not I am next to Coach,” Castello said. “Gives me a lot of TV time. … I’ll take whatever publicity I can get.”

Castello tried out to be a walk-on in the spring of his freshman year with friend Chris Bathon, who graduated in 2010. Both made the team — Bathon as a defensive back and Castello as a quarterback.

“The worst thing that happens is you don’t make it,” Castello said. “But I worked hard enough, and I got on the team and have been for three years.”

In those three years, the Pittsburgh native has practiced with many other quarterbacks, including several from California.

“Our quarterback room is very California versus Midwest, with Dayne [Crist], Nate [Montana] and [Matt] Mulvey being from California and then myself, [Andrew] Hendrix, Luke [Massa] and Tommy [Rees] being from the Midwest,” he said. “We send some jokes their way, they send some jokes our way. It’s all in good fun though.”

Castello has also gotten close with the rest of the walk-on players, in what they have termed the Walk-On Players Union.

“Everyone knows the trials and tribulations of walk-ons, and that brings us all together,” he said. “We all have a common characteristic: a lot of walk-ons are really good guys and that’s who you want to surround yourselves with. So yeah, WOPU Nation.”

The walk-ons have a formal every spring and make plenty of T-shirts. Castello said the saying on this year’s shirt is especially meaningful.

“This year’s is ‘Going pro in something other than sports,'” he said. “Because it’s true for almost everyone.”

“Going pro” means law school for Castello, an aerospace engineering major. He is in the process of applying, and listed Georgetown, Duke and Michigan as his top three choices.

“I know that’s not your conventional path,” he said. “Coming out of high school I knew engineering was the right choice for me. I don’t know how I decided but I decided on aerospace. In the last year and a half or so, I started seriously considering law school to the point where now I’m 100 percent committed to law school.”

While his technical expertise would help in practicing patent law, Castello said he would like to branch out and work in intellectual property law.

“It’s a lot like the ‘Social Network’ movie, like copyrights and trademarks and licensing,” he said. “That’s what I see myself doing.

“I’d be the one getting the people that deserve the money the money.”

Castello’s father, a Notre Dame alumnus, is also a lawyer. Castello said he talked to his dad, director of athletics Jack Swarbrick and several other attorneys in choosing to pursue law.

Castello acknowledged the help of Notre Dame’s alumni network as he “moves closer to the real world,” but his time at school is not over just yet, and he said the time spent with friends makes up his favorite memories.

“Different events you have with your friends, whether it be a certain social event you go to, or event you put together with your friends and teammates,” he said. “I think those define your college career.”

And if the seniors from WOPU Nation form a Bookstore Basketball team this spring, Castello will be on it.

“Basketball was really my first love from a sports standpoint,” he said. “But you know what, football’s really a great time. Especially at Notre Dame, you experience the tradition of Notre Dame football and it’s something truly special.”