Heroic Sac State football kicker offered scholarship


Edgar Casteneda (#58) won the starting kicker position this season.

Joe Davis

When Edgar Castaneda hit a 30-yard game-winning field goal to help his team beat the Pac-12’s University of Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday, he earned more than a victory and the respect of his teammates – he helped pay for his education.

During the post-game speech, head coach Marshall Sperbeck announced Castaneda, a junior walk-on kicker, would be rewarded with a scholarship for his efforts.

“I was not expecting it,” Castaneda said. “At least not anytime soon. But when he (announced) it, I thought to myself that when you work hard, it really pays off.”

The soccer player turned kicker attended Alameda High School before enrolling at City College of San Francisco in 2010. He helped the Rams win the California Community College Athletic Association Championship in 2011.

Castaneda had two other offers from schools on the East Coast, but neither were full scholarships, so he decided to stay close to home and walk on after being recruited by Sacramento State football without the promise of a scholarship.

In addition, Castaneda came into camp with no guaranteed spot on the Hornet’s roster. He had to compete with another transfer kicker Edward Ruhnke for an opportunity to become the team’s starting field goal kicker.

“The competition was really tough,” said Castaneda. “I managed to keep working hard and I earned my spot.”

Castaneda had to overcome more than competition from Ruhnke. He had to fight through injury during camp. It was not until the final scrimmage three days before the season opener at New Mexico State that Castaneda was able to show his skills.

“(Castaneda) was unable to kick during camp and we were disappointed,” said special teams coach Daniel DePrato. “When we finally got him (on the field) he rose to the occasion and won himself a starting role.”

Although Castaneda has been offered a scholarship and media outlets from around the country have broadcast his story, he remains focused on helping his team.

“I just want my (teammates) to have confidence in me and the kicking game,” said Castaneda. “I was waiting for the (chance) to the win the game so my (team) could have trust in me.”

Castaneda always operates with a team first mentality and he has a clear idea of what his job is. He does not get rattled and he does not let the attention get to him.

“Now I need to keep the scholarship by continuing doing what I’m doing,” Castaneda said. “It is nice to have people who want to get to know me but I cannot let that go to my head so I’ll remain humble and I’ll keep working hard.”

Castaneda’s parents who had been paying for his education at Sac State up until this point shed tears when they were told about their son’s late game reward for his late game heroics.

His coach spoke with evident pride about his new star kicker.

“Stepping up to win a game on that stage is a phenomenal accomplishment,” DePrato said. “He obviously earned himself a scholarship. He does whatever you ask of him and he has been a pleasure to coach.”

Joe Davis can be reached at [email protected]