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Sebastian Castro

Our Esquina College Football Player of the Year: Sebastian Castro

Receivers Kevin Concepcion, Xavier Restrepo earn runner-up honors

Although the University of Iowa didn’t raise the Big 10 Championship trophy, Sebastian Castro had a special season as one of the vocal leaders of the Hawkeyes defense and their success in the 2023 college football season.

In 13 games, Iowa’s defense ranked ninth in yards (3572), second in yards per play (3.99), third in allowing opponent touchdowns (15), and fifth in yards per game (274.8) in the entire nation. 

As a result of Castro’s contribution to the Hawkeyes’ stellar defense, he has been chosen as Our Esquina’s College Football Player of the Year.

The senior from Chicago was all over the field from his hybrid Cash position. Castro led the team in interceptions (3). He was also second in solo tackles (46) and pass break-ups (7), and third in interception yards (36) and tackles (61).

Perhaps more impressively, Sebastian Castro didn’t allow a single touchdown, according to PFF College.

Sebastian Castro garnered several honors

Cash’Stro earned several honors throughout the season. The Chicago native was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for his performance on Sept. 11 against in-state rival Iowa State.

He was a Second Team All-Big Ten selection by league media, and an honorable mention All-Big Ten pick by league coaches. Castro was also a midseason second team All-American by the Associated Press.

Sebastian Castro

Castro, 23, had a career-best season. He appears to have a bright future ahead. Now he has a big decision to make coming soon.

Runner-Ups

Kevin Concepcion, NC State Freshman WR

North Carolina State wide receiver Kevin Concepcion had an unforgettable freshman season. He posted video game numbers on the field. 

The speedy receiver placed himself in the ACC record books. He ranked second in touchdown receptions (10), fourth in receptions (64) and 10th in receiving yards (767). He also led all FBS freshman receivers in receptions and receiving yards.

Concepcion is the first freshman in program history to post two 100-plus yard receiving games and eight touchdown receptions in a season.

“KC” was awarded the ACC Rookie of the Year and ACC Offensive Player of the Year for 2023. He was also named Our Esquina’s Player of the Week three times.

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Lastly, the dynamic freshman was named a semifinalist for the Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year Award. This prestigious honor is given annually to the most outstanding freshman player in college football.

The Charlotte, N.C., native will return to the Wolfpack for his sophomore season.

Xavier Restrepo, Miami (FL) Junior WR

University of Miami receiver Xavier Restrepo is knocking on the door in making program history. 

The junior wide receiver is five receptions away from breaking Charleston Rambo’s 2021 single-season reception record (79). Also, Restrepo could be the next 1,000-yard Hurricane receiver to join Rambo, who collected 1,172 receiving yards in 2021.

The Coconut, Fla., native, finished second in the ACC in receptions (73) and receiving yards (993), and 13th in touchdowns (5) this season.

Restrepo was selected to the All-ACC first team and helped punch the Canes ticket to the Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl.

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