Juan Castillo joins the Bears as offensive line coach this year with 24 seasons of NFL coaching experience with the Eagles (1995-2012), Ravens (2013-16) and Bills (2017-18).
Here are three things you should know about Castillo:
(1) Castillo's background was on defense, but when given an opportunity to coach the offensive line at his alma mater, he crisscrossed the country to learn from the best.
Born and raised in southern Texas, Castillo played linebacker at Texas A&I and with the San Antonio Gunslingers in the USFL. After his playing career ended, he spent eight seasons as a defensive assistant coach in high school and college.
Hired to coach the offensive line at his alma mater in 1990—the school changed its name to Texas A&M-Kingsville in 1993—Castillo researched and identified seven of the best offensive line coaches in the country. He then contacted them and ultimately spent two weeks every spring from 1990 through 1994 traveling to watch them work.
The group included two college coaches—Notre Dame's Joe Moore and Michigan's Jerry Hanlon—and five in the NFL—the Bills' Tom Bresnahan, the Redskins' Jim Hanifan, the 49ers' Bobb McKittrick, the Chiefs' Howard Mudd and the Bears' Tony Wise.
The first few years Castillo hit the road, he often slept in his car. As he developed stronger relationships with the coaches he visited, he began staying at their homes.
"I didn't know anything about o-line play and they gave me the foundation," Castillo said. "Really they're the ones who taught me everything because I really didn't know anything. But what I found out was once I learned how to teach offensive line play from what those guys taught me, what really came in handy for me was that I already understood defenses."
(2) Castillo enjoyed extending his playing career in the USFL in 1984-85 and used the experience with the Gunslingers to prepare for his coaching career.
"I was an overachiever," Castillo said. "For me, it was a great experience. I wasn't good enough to play in the NFL, but I was in San Antonio and I was able to play two extra years."
Castillo recalls facing all-time greats such as quarterback Jim Kelly, running back Herschel Walker and defensive lineman Reggie White in the USFL. But what stands out most is how the experience helped the new Bears offensive line coach prepare for his second career.
"I knew that I was going to be a coach, so during those two years I took advantage and studied and really learned a lot from that opportunity," Castillo said. "To me it was really most about the knowledge that I gained that helped me as a coach."
(3) Four of the offensive linemen that Castillo coached at Texas A&M-Kingsville went on to have successful NFL careers.
Tackle Earl Dotson was selected by the Packers in the third round of the 1993 draft and played 120 games with 88 starts over 10 seasons in Green Bay.
Guards Jermane Mayberry and Kevin Dogins and tackle Jorge Diaz played together on the same line for Castillo and all entered the NFL in 1996.
Mayberry was chosen by the Eagles in the first round of the draft and appeared in 123 games with 104 starts in 11 seasons with the Eagles and Saints. He was named All-Pro and voted to the Pro Bowl in 2002.
Dogins entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Cowboys. He played in 49 games with 17 starts for four teams. Eight of his starts came with the Bears in 2002.
Diaz was also an undrafted free agent who appeared in 61 games with 45 starts over five seasons with the Buccaneers (1996-99) and Cowboys (2000).
"What I pride myself on is developing players," Castillo said. "I was at a Division II school and I had four kids go play in the NFL. For me, that's special. I used the skills that those coaches [Castillo visited] taught me and trained them. I learned about the work ethic, about doing something over and over and over, and I think that's the key."