By DYLAN BUTLER, New York Post
Last Updated: 10:48 PM, March 10, 2011
A few months ago, Oscar Castillo didn't know anything about the University of North Florida, not the head coach, not the school's nickname, not even where to locate the school on a map.
That's OK because the Bishop Ford standout wasn't on North Florida's radar either. That is, until Derek Marinatos saw him play at the IMG Cup in Bradenton, Fla. in December.
Castillo was there with the Brooklyn Italians, while Marinatos was identifying potential recruits ahead of his interview for the head-coaching job at North Florida.
âI had a chance to see him play and saw when he got isolated out wide his ability to take players on 1-v-1,â said Marinatos, who was previously an associate head coach at Furman University. âHe was real dangerous with or without the ball. I left very impressed.â
And when Marinatos landed the North Florida gig a short time later, one of his first calls was to Castillo, who became one of his first recruits and was the only player that caught his eye from the IMG Cup.
âI see him playing as an outside mid, he can play on the left or the right,â Marinatos said. âHe played center mid for his club team, but what I noticed about him is that when he got isolated out wide on the right in a couple of 1-v-1 situations, he was so dangerous and dynamic with the ball and without the ball. He's small, he's very fast and took players on and got service in.â
Castillo, a two-year Post first team All-Brooklyn selection, said he was also being recruited by Adelphi, Binghamton, Dayton, Plattsburgh and St. Francis College in Brooklyn, but his lone visit was to North Florida's Jacksonville, Fla. campus.
âThe campus was nice, the feeling around the school was nice, but what motivated me the most was the coach and what he said about the team and what his goals are,â Castillo said. âI'm excited to go down there and help the team build up to those goals.â
Among those goals is to win an Atlantic Sun Conference title and Castillo, Marinatos said, will be a key cog in the Ospreys quest.
âI see Oscar having an immediate impact,â he said.
Castillo, who also played for the Red Bulls Academy for three years, said he is anxious to begin this next chapter in his career, while also being thankful for those who helped him during his storied high-school career.
âI personally feel proud of myself, but I wouldn't have made it anywhere without the support of the Bishop Ford community and especially the support of my coach, Barney Cassidy, and my athletic director, Pete Goyco,â he said.
Cassidy believes Castillo, who helped lead Bishop Ford to the CHSAA Class B intersectional title game as a junior, has the ability to shine on the collegiate level and thinks North Florida is the perfect place for him to do so.
âOscar is special, he's a special talent and I have high hopes for him,â Cassidy said. âI think he's going to get a lot of opportunity down there. I think it's a good fit for him. He's so hard to cover because of his speed and dribbling ability.â
IMG Cup - Boys Tournament is set for December 11th - 13th, 2011. Teams should apply as we will have limited availability.