Rakeem Cato has come a long way in two seasons.
Marshall’s sophomore quarterback was rewarded for a big year when he was selected as Conference USA’s Most Valuable Player, the league announced Wednesday.
A day after he was announced as a first-team all-conference selection, Cato became the first Marshall player to earn the league’s top honor. He is the sixth quarterback to be named C-USA MVP but the first underclassman.
The Miami native becomes the first Marshall offensive player to win a top conference award since Leftwich was named the Mid-American Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2002.
Cato burst onto the scene when he started as a true freshman in 2011. He had mixed results, from an upset win at Louisville to a four-interception game at Ohio. He completed 182 of 304 passes for 2,059 yards, 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Things improved dramatically this fall.
Cato leads the Football Bowl Subdivision in completions per game (33.83) and passing yards per game (350.08), and is third in touchdown passes (37), fifth in total offense per game (352.67) and completion percentage (69.5). He also leads C-USA in pass efficiency (147.1).
He led a Herd unit that is second in the nation in third-down conversion percentage (54.59) and first downs per game (29.42), and 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).
Despite an offense that ranked first in C-USA and sixth nationally, the Herd finished the year 5-7 and out of bowl contention.
The season may have been disappointing, but it can’t be argued that Marshall’s offense was fun to watch. Part of that was a running game that improved as the season went along.
That fact was reflected in Cato’s teammate, running back Kevin Grooms, being named the league’s Freshman of the Year. Like Cato, Grooms is the first Marshall player to earn the award.
Grooms, who originally committed to Miami, leads all C-USA freshmen with 67.0 rushing yards per game. He ran for eight touchdowns and caught another. His 737 rushing yards is the fourth-highest total all-time among Marshall freshmen.
His breakout game came against Rice, when he posted 103 rushing yards with three touchdowns to go with a 5-yard touchdown catch. He also tallied 155 rushing yards and a touchdown against Houston on 21 carries.
Grooms named Freshman of the Year
Rakeem Cato has come a long way in two seasons.
- Latest Sports
Bradshaw or the field?
If a betting window were set up on the Cobb Course at The Resort at Glade Springs for the 81st West Virginia Open Championship, which begins at 8 a.m. this morning, the most popular wager would probably be David Bradshaw against the field.
Holgorsen: WVU getting comfortable in new league
Dana Holgorsen remembers the glory days of West Virginia University football — the ones that included conference championships and BCS bowl wins. In fact, he was part of one of those, leading the Mountaineers to a Big East championship and an Orange Bowl victory in his first season as head coach in 2011.
Home sweet home away from home
When Greenbrier owner Jim Justice was handed a copy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch Sunday, his eyes lit up like a Rockefeller Center Christmas tree on a cold December night.
Miners take series with Paints
The way the West Virginia Miners see it, they don’t have the luxury of planning for tomorrow.
Post 32 rips Parkersburg 19-3 in American Legion tournament
The double play in baseball is said to be a pitcher’s best friend. If that is the case, an 11-run inning by the offense is a very close second.
Former Mountaineer standout Gaddis making career in MLS
Philadelphia Union defender Ray Gaddis may consider Indianapolis his hometown, but make no mistake about it, the Mountain State will always have a place in his heart.
WVU's Fleming signs with Yankees
Second baseman Billy Fleming of the West Virginia University baseball team has signed a professional contract with the New York Yankees, foregoing his upcoming senior season.
WVU to kickoff 2018 season against Tennessee in Charlotte
The Charlotte Sports Foundation (CSF) announced Tuesday morning that it has secured a regular season college football game for the city of Charlotte pitting the University of Tennessee against West Virginia University.
Beamer sees turnaround for Hokies
Virginia Tech head football coach Frank Beamer painted a rosy picture of the Hokies’ prospects during Monday’s Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff press conference in Greensboro, N.C.
Picnic with the Saints
The New Orleans Saints are coming to town, and fans will have the chance to share in the excitement at Picnic with the Saints this Saturday at the AdvoCare Sports Performance Center at The Greenbrier. INCLUDES UPDATED PRACTICE SCHEDULE.
- More Latest Sports Headlines
- Bradshaw or the field?