When Rakeem Cato stepped on the artificial turf at Joan C. Edwards Stadium for the start of his first college football practice he had one goal in mind… become Marshall’s starting quarterback. Well, he can check that off his list.
Head Coach Doc Holliday announced Tuesday that the true freshman from Miami, FL would lead Marshall’s offense when it takes the field for the first time in the 2011 season Sunday in Morgantown.
“I had high expectations coming in at Marshall,” says Cato. “I just wanted to get the job done, compete for the starting job and take it over from day one.”
Cato has excelled in preseason camp taking on a leadership role even though he’s never played in a college football game. Cato has also adapted well to The Herd’s offense since he basically ran the same scheme in high school.
(Video courtesy of WMUL-FM)
“We basically ran the same type of plays just different names,” Cato recalls. “I saw the same defenses, the 3-3-5 and ran the same offense in high school.”
Cato will get a good look at the 3-3-5 defense Sunday, but he won’t be facing a high school defense running it. The Mountaineers feature shifting linebackers and Bruce Irvin rushing off the end, but even the prospect of facing the daunting Mountaineer defense doesn’t seem to phase the young quarterback.
“Our defensive coordinator [in high school] ran that defense and I saw it in practice everyday. I just got to stay in the system and get the job done,” asserts Cato.
Cato has gotten a taste of the pressure he will feel. He’s practiced and scrimmaged with Vinny Curry, one of the best pass rushers in the country, crashing in off the edge.
“That’s the perfect player to go against in practice. He came off the edge going 100 mph every play.”
What Cato lacks in experience he makes up for in confidence. Cato didn’t come to Marshall to ride the bench and learn the ropes in his freshman year. He came to Huntington to not only play in his first year on campus, he came to win the starting job. Cato isn’t making the trip to Morgantown to simply give it his best effort, he’s going there to win.
“I always reach above the sky. I have confidence in myself.”