The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

July 17, 2013

Herd’s Cato named preseason C-USA offensive player of year

Hoskins, Shuler, Williams also honored by league

By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor

— All the offensive firepower Marshall showed last season is being reflected in Conference USA’s preseason awards.

Quarterback Rakeem Cato was named the league’s Presesason Offensive Player of the Year, the league announced Wednesday. Cato, a Miami native, was the C-USA Most Valuable Player in 2012 after finishing among the nation’s leaders in several passing categories.

Also honored as first-teamers were tight end Gator Hoskins, receiver Tommy Shuler and punter Tyler Williams.

Cato, who last season was the first underclassman in Conference USA history to be named the league’s Most Valuable Player, led the nation in completions (406) and passing yards per game (350.1). His 37 touchdown passes ranked third nationally, while his 69.5 completion rate was fourth and his 352.7 yards of total offense per game stood fifth. Cato also led the league in pass efficiency (147.1).

His 66.2 percent career completion mark (588-of-888) is currently a school record, just ahead of Herd legends Chad Pennington (65.1) and Byron Leftwich (63.4).

Also on Wednesday, Cato was named to the Davey O’Brian Award Watch List. The award is given annually to the nation’s top quarterback.

Hoskins, on the John Mackey Award Watch List (top tight end), had 10 touchdown receptions last season to lead all tight ends. He caught 35 passes for 374 yards.

Shuler, named to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List (top receiver), was among the nation’s leaders in 2012 with 110 receptions for 1,138 yards and six touchdowns.

Williams was an honorable mention All-American after averaging 45.2 yards on 43 punts, 16 of which were downed inside the 20-yard line. He is on the Ray Guy Award Watch List.

As a team, Marshall was picked to finish second in the East Division behind outgoing East Carolina. Tulsa was a unanimous pick in the West.

The Herd will open the season Saturday, Aug. 31, at home against Miami (Ohio). Kickoff will be 7 p.m.

— E-mail: gfauber


Offensive Player of the Year

Rakeem Cato, Jr., QB, Marshall

Defensive Player of the Year

Phillip Gaines, Sr., DB, Rice

Special Teams Player of the Year

Cairo Santos, Sr., K, Tulane

First Team Offense

QB Rakeem Cato, Jr., Marshall

RB Vintavious Cooper, Sr., East Carolina

RB Darrin Reaves, Jr., UAB

OL Jake Alexander, Jr., Tulsa

OL Stetson Burnett, Sr., Tulsa

OL Scott Inskeep, Jr., UTSA

OL Nate Richards, Sr., Rice

OL Matt Shepperd, Jr., Louisiana Tech

OL Will Simmons, Sr., East Carolina

WR Justin Hardy, Jr., East Carolina

WR Ryan Grant, Sr., Tulane

WR Tommy Shuler, Jr., Marshall

TE Gator Hoskins, Sr., Marshall

First Team Defense

DL Christian Covington, So., Rice

DL Justin Ellis, Sr., Louisiana Tech

DL Greg Hickman, Sr., FIU

DL Rakeem Nunez-Roches, DL, Southern Miss

LB Shawn Jackson, Sr., Tulsa

LB Derrell Johnson, Sr., East Carolina

LB Andre Kirk, Jr., Florida Atlantic

DB Kevin Byard, So., Middle Tennessee

DB Lorenzo Doss, So., Tulane

DB Phillip Gaines, Sr., Rice

DB Marco Nelson, Sr., Tulsa

First Team Special Teams

K Cairo Santos, Sr., Tulane

P Tyler Williams, So., Marshall

KR Reggie Whatley, Jr., Middle Tennessee

PR Trey Watts, Sr., Tulsa



1. East Carolina (11) 95

2. Marshall (2) 82

3. Middle Tennessee (1) 70

4. UAB 54

5. Southern Miss 40

6. Florida Atlantic 28

7. FIU 23


1. Tulsa (14) 98

2. Rice 76

3. Louisiana Tech 72

4. UTEP 46

5. North Texas 39

6. Tulane 31

7. UTSA 30

(first place votes in parantheses)