HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Doc Holliday is the first to admit that Rakeem Cato should never have started as a true freshman. But the scrawny kid from Miami won the starting job having been the with the program just a few weeks before he took his first snaps as a college quarterback against WVU.

Now, going into his third season as The Herd’s starter, Cato has the chance to be a special player. His physical development has been well documented and his work in the weight room has clearly improved his presence in the pocket.

“He’s making throws now at the end of practice on whatever day of doubles, that a year ago he may not have been able to make that throw,” said offensive coordinator Bill Legg. “He’s worked extremely hard on his individual game from a standpoint of improving his strength, which has improved his quickness, his speed and his arm.”

In last week’s scrimmage, Cato completed 13-of-21 attempts for 141 yards. As a junior he is now able to deliver the ball on a rope and has the ability to get the deep ball down the field with more accuracy.

More impressive than the improvements in measurable categories such as bench press, squat and other lifts has been his maturation as a leader and his grasp on The Herd’s playbook.  Cato is not shy about getting in teammates’ faces when receivers run a wrong route, the line misses a block or the backs go the wrong direction.  Cato knows where everybody should be on every play.  Legg says Cato now has a complete grasp on the scheme and they want to accomplish.

“There’s times that he turns and he’s about to give a signal to the box and I’ve already called it. He has an extremely high football IQ,” said Legg.

Cato has reached a point that coaches hope all players achieve, he’s no longer thinking about defensive alignments, coverages and hot reads.  He’s now reading the defense and reacting. Decisions that he had to think about last season are now second nature.

“Smarter, more decisive, understands how I think,” is how Legg now describes his quarterback. “I understand how he thinks and there’s times he’ll check to something that I’m sitting there going ‘that’s exactly what I wanted him to do.”

Cato’s numbers in 2012 speak for themselves but Legg thinks Cato can be better than last year.

” You start putting all that stuff together and now he’s taken on the mantra of teacher/mentor and leader.  The kid’s got a chance to be really special.”

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  • ThomasWV

    Admission requirements for WVU and MU are essentially the same. Both are state schools. Cato played as a true freshman, so he was not a prop. Must have had the grades and test scores. Academics were not what hurt his recruiting. He was thought to be too small to be a big time QB. He is likely smarter than most to be this good on this level because of his lack of size. Consider this, Cato is undefeated against Teddy Bridgewater including HS and college match-ups. Bridgewater is 3 inches taller and got better offers, this year being touted as a Heisman candidate already. If Cato was 3 inches taller he'd likely be at a power conference school.

  • glenn

    wvu fan here rooting for marshall.Westvirginia proud.

  • Florida Boy

    Yea he seems to be " putting it all together "

    sure 1 + 1 = 4

    He is not the brightest guy in Huntington to say the least. Um thats why he is with the Herd can you say Academic under achiever. BCS boys backed off when thy saw his grades, very talented could have played in most Conferances,
    but smart NO!!!!!

    • Larry

      I don't know, you may be on to something, but I still think they will win at least 6 games this year.

  • hailey

    This guy seems to be the real deal, I think he will have only one real test this year VA TECH , let's hope he can undress their secondary.

    • Reality

      With a chunk of their secondary gone from injuries/transfers I like our chances.

  • Larry

    Marshall will go far with him, he seems extremely intelligent.