Look at Marshall’s starting quarterback now and compare him with the wide-eyed true freshman who won the starting job in preseason camp and you might not notice anything right away. However if you talk to Rakeem Cato for a little while you’ll quickly see he’s not the same quarterback that took the field against WVU at Mylan Puskar Stadium last season.
He’s grown up, mentally and physically.
Cato has spent the offseason under the watchful eye of strength and conditioning coach Joe Miday and says he can see the results.
“I feel like I’ve gained a lot of weight, says Cato. “It’s going to help me a lot. I’ll be able to take hits, not have to slide, and make me more of a threat running and throwing the ball.”
Strides Cato had made in the weight room were clearly evident during spring drills when he displayed more zip on throws to his young receiving corps. However, its not just in physical stature Cato has matured this off season. He has also done a lot of growing up mentally. Being benched following a dismal performance and sideline outburst at UCF may have been the best thing to happen to the young quarterback.
Following A.J. Graham’s injury Cato had a different attitude and started to learn how to be a leader and not just a quarterback. Now that leadership has extended to the offseason where Cato is getting plenty of time with his receivers.
“Two or three times a week we throw the ball around, just trying to find good communication,” says Cato.
Cato didn’t have the opportunity to work with the receivers like that prior to the 2011 season. Now Tommy Shuler says communication on the field will be much better and everyone knows each other’s tendencies.
“We’ve got good chemistry and know where each other is going to be and just play ball,” says current and former high school teammate Tommy Shuler.
The quarterback position is always one to watch heading into any season but for the first time in several years at Marshall fans aren’t anxiously watching a quarterback battle, wondering if there is a guy that lead team to success. This season they know they have that player in Rakeem Cato, they’re watching to see how much better he is and how much better he could be.
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