The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

August 26, 2013

Cato adds muscle, ditches the gloves

Marshall quarterback stronger as team prepares to start 2013 season

HUNTINGTON — As far as breakout seasons go, Rakeem Cato’s second tour as Marshall’s starting quarterback was as big as any.

Cato led the nation with 350.1 yards and 34 completions per game, and his 37 touchdown passes were tops in Conference USA. His career 66 percent completion percentage thus far is the highest ever at Marshall, a school that has boasted the likes of Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich behind center.

Still, he knew he could get better. Make that, had to get better.

He has found that improvement in new strength and conditioning coach Scott Sinclair. Working with Sinclair over the summer helped Cato get stronger; he’s added just six pounds to his frame, from 182 to 188, but his arms are noticeably thicker.

“It’s all Coach Sinclair,” Cato said. “It’s not just me, but the whole team. I was willing to learn from him. He’s got some great things going, and everything he does, he’s just got a lot of energy. He’s always happy. You’ll probably never see him mad. He’s a great coach and I learned a lot from him.”

Sinclair’s help goes beyond weights and Muscle Milk. The former assistant strength coach at Central Florida has also made an impact with his postive outlook.

“He came in with an attitude of winning,” Cato said. “He didn’t come in here with any negative (thoughts). I try to grow under him and learn more from him. He came in, and everything he was telling me to do I just went hard at it. Running to the next station or coming right back from the bathroom, that’s what I’m doing.”

Cato probably couldn’t be trusted with a hall pass in high school, but confidence in him to lead the offense has been well earned.

And he’ll be doing so without the gloves that seemed to pester some Marshall fans.

“I can throw the ball without gloves now,” Cato said. “I’m a lot crisper and my arm got a lot stronger. Running the ball, I got a lot faster. I’m quicker on my feet. It helps a lot.”

Cato said he started wearing gloves at an all-star game in Florida.

“We had to play with Nike balls, and the Nike balls are so thick and big that I couldn’t get a good grip,” he said. “I tried it with gloves and they fit it perfectly. I went from there and just stuck with it.

“They’re not gone completely. They work for me. I don’t know about other quarterbacks. I can only speak for me and they work for me.”

The junior from Miami is coming off a season in which he established himself as one of the top quarterbacks in Football Bowl Subdivision. He threw for 4,201 yards to go with his 37 touchdowns en route to being named the C-USA Most Valuable Player. He became the first underclassman to win the award.

Cato never expected such success to come so soon. But he’s blocking it all out and concentrating on getting the Herd back to a bowl game and maybe even a league championship.

“I just play football the best way I can,” Cato said. “What I’m trying to do now is (ignore) the stats, the numbers, the MVPs. My mind is only set on one thing and that’s winning. If it’s not about winning, I don’t want to be a part of it.”

Based on Marshall’s offensive explosion of a year ago, and a defense that can only improve after ranking as one of the worst in the FBS last year, some are expecting a big year for Marshall. USA Today placed the Herd 40th in its preseason rankings.

Cato said the players will have to block all of that out and concentrate on winning as many games as possible in 2013.

“Just stay focused. Have fun and not think of it too much. Don’t think about outside (distractions). Just play football like you’ve been playing your whole life. All us young men here, we love football. If we didn’t love it we wouldn’t be out here. That’s the kind of mindset I’ve got to get around to the team, and we have a great job with that. Everybody is bonding more, hanging out more, talking to each other more.”

Coach Doc Holliday has preached a team mentality, even announcing at last week’s annual Paint the Capital City Green event in Charleston that Herd jerseys will not bear players’ names this season. It’s a concept that Cato has embraced.

“I just want to come out here and have fun,” he said. “God blessed me with a great individual season, but that’s not on my mind. Everybody around here in the Marshall community is concentrated on winning.”

n n n

Captains this season will be chosen by the coaches on a game-by-game season. Those chosen for Saturday’s season opener against Miami (Ohio) were defensive back Monterius Lovett, offensive tackle Garrett Scott, running back Essray Taliaferro and defensive end Jeremiah Taylor.

At the conclusion of the season, four season captains will be chosen by the team among those student-athletes who were named captains during the season.

— E-mail: gfauber@

register-herald.com

1
Text Only
College Sports
  • Mountaineers beat Buckeyes 4-1 in lefty Vance’s first career start

    In his first career start for the WVU baseball team, sophomore left-hander Ross Vance struck out 14 en route to a 4-1 victory over Ohio State on Tuesday evening at Hawley Field.

    April 15, 2014

  • Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage

    There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage last Saturday.

    April 15, 2014

  • Wesleyan edges CU twice in softball

    The Concord University softball narrowly dropped a pair of games to No. 17 West Virginia Wesleyan, 2-1 and 4-3, Sunday afternoon at Culpepper Field.

    April 14, 2014

  • Concord baseball shuts out Cardinals

    The Concord University baseball team posted two shutout victories on Sunday, extending its winning streak to seven games by beating conference foe Wheeling Jesuit.

    April 14, 2014

  • dana Much still to be answered this fall

    In Saturday’s paper, I compiled a list of five things to watch at West Virginia University’s annual Gold-Blue Spring Game. Now, after watching the football scrimmage that concluded this year’s spring drills and taking some time to process what I saw, it’s time to go back and revisit those five points and how they turned out on Saturday.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • D’Antoni speculation now seems to have legs

    Kareem Canty got what he wanted, and Marshall fans should find out this week if they will get what they want.

    April 13, 2014

  • millard Specials teams shine at Gold-Blue Game

    The scoreboard said the Gold (offense) beat the Blue (defense) 37-27 in Saturday’s Gold-Blue Spring Game at Milan Puskar Stadium using a modified scoring system that rewarded the defense for stops and turnovers and the offense for scores.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • syvertson ‘Huey the Punter’ makes transition to LB

    The first reaction of the 10,000 fans in attendance at Milan Puskar Stadium for Saturday’s Gold-Blue Spring Game when No. 42 shot through the offensive line and put junior college transfer quarterback Skyler Howard on the ground in the second half was to ooh and aah.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • crutchfield Crutchfield again named Furfari Award winner

    Already the winningest men’s basketball coach in college history in terms of percentage — yes, better than guys like John Wooden, Adolph Rupp and Roy Williams — West Liberty’s Jim Crutchfield is heading into some lofty territory within the confines of his home state.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Five things to watch at WVU spring game

    Spring practice will come to an end for West Virginia University this afternoon when the Mountaineer football team hosts the annual Gold-Blue Spring Game at 1 p.m. at Milan Puskar Stadium.

    April 11, 2014

AP Video