The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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July 17, 2013

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

Hoskins, Shuler, Williams also honored by league

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

@register-herald.com

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