Castonzo keeps up BC tradition

At combine, he joins teammate Herzlich in pursuing NFL dream

Updated: February 24, 2011, 9:32 PM ET
By Mike Reiss |

INDIANAPOLIS -- When NFL teams size up Boston College offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo at this week's NFL scouting combine, they will notice something unique. Castonzo's left foot is about an inch and a half bigger than his right.

"In high school I started buying two different sized shoes," Castonzo said during a visit to the media center at Lucas Oil Stadium. "Now I just buy 18s and the right shoe is an inch and a half big."

Castonzo shouldn't be buying his own shoes much longer. As one of the top-rated offensive tackles in the draft, he is likely to have his own shoe contract before he plays his first NFL game.

Castonzo, a projected first-round selection, said feels as though he's carrying on a tradition as he makes the transition to the pros.

[+] EnlargeAnthony Castonzo
Michael Tureski/Icon SMI"Growing up, I heard from a lot of people not to set my sights on the NFL because I might be heartbroken. But I always thought 'Why not shoot for the stars?'" said Anthony Castonzo.

"The mantra at BC is when you get to the NFL just to be a tough guy, to work and be that blue-collar kind of guy," he said. "I'm hoping to take what [past BC players have done] and take the reins and be the next guy."

BC's history in producing NFL offensive linemen is well documented, although that's not necessarily what initially led Castonzo to Chestnut Hill. Coming out of high school, he was 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds, and every college he hoped to play for told him he was too light.

So he went to prep school (Fork Union Military Academy) and gained 25 pounds in one semester before signing with BC. He was a consistent performer in his four-year career at BC, starting all 54 games while going up against some top defensive ends, such as Michael Johnson (Georgia Tech, Bengals) and Everette Brown (Florida State, Panthers).

In preparation for the combine, Castonzo has worked with former college coach Tom Lovat, who had previously tutored Jake Long (Dolphins) and Bryan Bulaga (Packers) in the pre-draft process. Castonzo has been working out in Bradenton, Fla., with other prospects, including Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich (who is scheduled to arrive in Indianapolis on Friday).

"I'm very close with him, his story is incredible," Castonzo said of Herzlich. "He came back from cancer and instead of saying 'I'm back' -- which was an incredible feat -- he decided that he would still pursue his dream, and still try to be the best at his position. I admire him for that."

As for his own situation, Castonzo said he's talked with a bunch of NFL teams throughout the pre-draft process. That will continue at the combine. He said that in many ways, he feels as though he's living a dream.

"Growing up, I heard from a lot of people not to set my sights on the NFL because I might be heartbroken," he said. "But I always thought 'Why not shoot for the stars?' I've always wanted to be the best, regardless of what anyone says. My dream my entire life has been to play in the NFL."

Mike Reiss covers the New England Patriots for ESPN Boston. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

Student assistant Mike Rodak contributed to this report.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter