BOONE — Watauga quarterback Anderson Castle had his choice of college football programs to play for after graduating high school.
Of those programs, Appalachian State was the one that stood above the rest.
Calling it “a dream come true,” Castle verbally committed to play football for the Mountaineers Jan. 28. Appalachian State head coach Shawn Clark made the offer after Watauga’s boys’ basketball team hosted Alexander Central.
It was also Castle’s birthday.
“(Clark) said, ‘I didn’t know it was your birthday, but I think I’ve got a good present for you. How’s a scholarship?’” Castle said. “Obviously I was very happy about it.”
Growing up in the High Country, Castle has regularly attended App State home football games for a long time. He made all of the home games he could in 2019 except the ones that he missed because while visiting other colleges
Once Clark made his offer, the other schools pursuing Castle had little chance of landing him. Castle said App State was his home team growing up, and now he has the chance to fulfill his wish of playing for the Mountaineers.
“It’s basically my home school,” Castle said. “I basically went to every home game and didn’t miss any. To this day, App State is my favorite college football team and when Coach Clark gave me the offer it was pretty much a done deal. I knew that’s where I wanted to be and I knew that was where my heart was.”
Castle, a three-year starter at quarterback for Watauga, will likely play safety for the Mountaineers. Castle played safety for the Pioneers this season when he finished with 39 total tackles, 25 of them being solo stops. He had one tackle for a loss and had nine pass breakups.
Castle feels he can improve at the position.
“I know a lot about it, but I feel there is a lot I can improve,” he said. “I’m going to try to do my best and be the best that I can. I think Coach Clark knows I’m versatile and that I can play the slot receiver if safety doesn’t work out.”
Castle made his biggest mark with Watauga’s football team at quarterback. He finished the 2019 season with 2,223 rushing yards and 36 touchdowns. He passed for 1,190 yards and 13 touchdowns after completing 53-of-82 of his attempts.
Castle was invited to play in the prestigious Shrine Bowl, which was played the same day App State played in the New Orleans Bowl. Castle played slotback and was North Carolina’s option quarterback at the all-star game featuring the best prep football players from North Carolina and South Carolina.
It’s unlikely he would be used at quarterback at Appalachian State, but he’s fine with that. Whatever position he plays, Castle plans to get on the field as quickly as he can.
“I’m going to work extremely hard,” Castle said. “I didn’t commit to App to sit on the sideline. I have a lot of confidence in myself and I believe that I can play there. I have a lot to prove at the safety position.”
Castle was on the Mountaineers’ radar screen before former coach Eli Drinkwitz left App State for Missouri in December. He said the current staff who remained at App State still kept recruiting him, including former safeties coach Greg Gasparato, who offered a walk-on spot at his new home at Army when he left Boone in mid-January.
“Getting a new coach, there are a lot of adjustments and it’s kind of hectic, so I understand that,” Castle said of the situation at App State. “They let me know that they hadn’t forgotten about me and they stayed in touch with me. As far as the offer goes, I was not expecting it. Playing the basketball (Jan. 28) and seeing coach Clark in the door, I didn’t expect him to offer me.”
Watauga ended up losing the basketball game to Alexander Central, but what Clark had to offer Castle made the Pioneer happy.
Castle will have a friend when he arrives on the App State practice field as he joins former quarterback Jackson Greene in the App State secondary. Greene walked on to the Appalachian program as a safety in 2019 after playing cornerback and quarterback for Watauga in 2018.
Ironically, Greene replaced Castle for six games at quarterback when Castle injured his wrist in the first game of the 2018 season at T.C. Roberson. Greene was the backup in 2017, but was never the starter since Castle stayed healthy that entire season.
“We’ll both be there at safety, so it will be fun to be out there again because we’re still very close friends and we’ve talked about how App is,” Castle said. “He’s enjoying it, so I’m excited to get out there with him.”
Castle said he is happy that the recruiting process is over. He was offered scholarships from Western Carolina, The Citadel and Gardner-Webb and from some Division II programs such as Lenoir-Rhyne. Mercer also offered, but its available sports filled up, so the offer was no longer available.
Castle said The Citadel and Western Carolina were at the top of his list before App State stepped in. He said the beginning of the recruiting process was fun, but it turned stressful as it went on.
He called The Citadel and Western Carolina and said both coaching staffs understood his decision.
“I’m definitely glad that it’s over with,” Castle said. “My parents might be more happy than I am that it’s over with. It was really cool at first, but I was ready to make a decision and when (App State) came in it made it easy for me.”
Before Castle plays a down at App State, or attends one practice with the Mountaineers, he is a key part of the Watauga basketball team. He also plans to play baseball at Watauga.
Castle said he would like to study business at App State.
“I’m not really sure, but I want to get into business somehow,” Castle said.
One thing that Castle has also thought about, now that he decided to be a Mountaineer, is when he has the uniform on and he takes the Kidd Brewer Stadium field for the first time.
“It’s going to be an extremely cool thing to run out there and play instead of watching,” he said. “I remember watching the first home App game this year and they played ETSU and seeing Zach West on the ETSU sideline and Jackson with App and the atmosphere was good. I remember thinking how cool that would be to just be there with the team instead of the stands. To know I’m going to be doing that is pretty awesome.”