While there has been plenty of recent hype and excitement surrounding freshman tight end Ethan Davis, McCallan Castles hasn’t done anything to lose his position as the de facto complement to established senior Jacob Warren.
“He came in for a reason,” Warren said of Castles during this week’s Vol Report. “He’s a sixth-year guy like me, so he’s not waiting around. He’s here to play and to make plays.”
Castles, who transferred to Tennessee following the 2022 season, averaged 13.4 yards per catch at UC-Davis, and is poised to have an even more productive season considering he is more experienced than any other tight end on the Vols roster – other than Warren – and he is playing for one of the most explosive offenses in the nation. The Vols have Castles tagged to replace former Vol tight end Princeton Fant, who is currently with the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL.
With UT being Castles’ third school in six years, it’s fair to winder how will he adapt to another new offense? Warren isn’t too concerned.
“He got here in the spring, and now we’re seeing this progress that he’s making through fall camp of understanding exactly where he needs to be,” Warren said. “Understanding, making decisions on the perimeter, catching balls, making plays… he’s really excelling and becoming extremely good at a being part of this offense. How we do it at Tennessee is going to be different than how he’s done it in the past. Learning our footwork, learning how we use our hands, how we run our different schemes… his ability definitely shines through. You know what he’s trying to get done.”
We all know McCallan’s stats were solid through three seasons at UC Davis and two prior years at California, but what can we expect from him this season? Warren thinks Castles’ biggest assets are his ability to play with leverage and years of experience.
“A young player, it takes them a little while because once you get to this level, everybody is big,” Warren said. “Everybody’s strong, everybody’s fast. It’s about what is going to set you apart. Leverage is obviously a really big part of it. He understands how to use his body to make blocks. (He) understands the offense enough to be able to make things right. Whether it’s just something’s wrong and being able to have the confidence to speak up and say, ‘Hey, let’s go get it right.’”
Not only is Castles fitting right in with his new team and new offense, he’s already forming strong relationships with his teammates off the field. Jacob Warren said their friendship came easy.
“He, like all these other transfer guys are just open books,” Warren said. “They come in and are so willing to talk, so willing to just be around, hang out, engage. I know a lot about Knoxville… this is my home. (I’m) just making him feel at home, making him feel welcome. I’m a firm believer that you go through some things with people and it makes you really close. He fits into our tight end group and then also my actual group of friends that I hang out with outside the facilities.”
Castles may not have received the hype outside of those facilities that others have enjoyed, but he is set to receive plenty of publicity once he finds himself in Neyland Stadium this fall.