Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

December 28, 2013

KYLE HOBSTETTER: Cato climbing Herd QB ranks

Kyle Hobstetter
For The Independent

ANNAPOLIS, MD. — Rakeem Cato is doing his best to put his name among the elite quarterbacks in Marshall history.

Some could say the junior’s name is already up there.

With his MVP performance in Friday’s Military Bowl, Cato is marching toward one of the best quarterback careers in Marshall history.  

Just look at the numbers:

-Cato is only the third Marshall quarterback to throw for more than 10,000 yards. The other two are Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich — both first-round draft picks.

-Cato, a junior, is already second all-time in career touchdown passes with 91. He trails only Pennington’s 115.

-Cato has thrown a touchdown pass in 32 consecutive games.

-Cato was won two bowl games. The only Marshall quarterbacks to lead the Thundering Herd to multiple bowl wins were Leftwich and Pennington.

But the scary thing is, Cato has done all this in one less year than Leftwich and Pennington.

The Miami native has quietly become one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the country.

After Friday’s Military Bowl win, the attention around Cato shouldn’t be so quiet.

“I tell the guys all the time, big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games,” Cato said. “I just wanted to come out here and lay everything out on the line and bring my team a victory.”

With the dismantling of an ACC team on a national television stage, Cato could see a lot of attention next season.

Along with Cato, Marshall will return a majority of its starters from a 10-win team.

All this could lead to the Thundering Herd making some national noise next season.

Raceland Represented

In makes perfect sense that a player from the Raceland Rams plays in a stadium for a team that has a logo of a Ram.

Former Raceland standout Sebastian Johansson started at left guard for the Herd on Friday, as he did for most of the season.

Local fans might remember Johansson, a native of Karlstad, Sweden, from his junior season at Raceland in 2008.

After Raceland’s run in this season’s playoffs, and having produced a starter in a bowl game, current and former Rams have a lot to hang their hat on this season.

Gator is Gone

Tight end Gator Hoskins has been a mismatch for every team he’s played against this season.

That is why the senior leads the nation in touchdown receptions by a tight end with 15, including two on Friday.

Marshall coach Doc Holliday said Hoskins’s Military Bowl performance has been similar to the tight end’s season.

“What Gator has been able to do all season is create a mismatch between him and the defender covering him,” Holliday said. “When he is out there being covered by a safety for space or a linebacker, it creates a mismatch because of his athletic ability and his ball skills. It showed today and the reason why he has the most touchdowns in the nation by a tight end.”

A lot of those at Marshall are hoping Hoskins is the next Marshall player to take the step to the NFL.

According to Sports Illustrated writer Chris Burke, Hoskins could have a future in the NFL. But, instead of being a tight end, he could see time as a fullback.

Other Observations

-Annapolis did a good job hosting its first Military Bowl. Before the game, a parade was held and led by the Budweiser Clydesdales and both university’s bands.

Along with the parade, a parachute team landed in the stadium, and there was a flyover from a B-52.

-Marshall fans were well represented in Annapolis for what could have been a home game for Maryland.

Thundering Herd fans were seated below the press box, and after every big play you could easily feel the roar of the crowd.

-Honorary captains were a good representation of Marshall history.

Former football great Byron Leftwich, coach of the Young Thundering Herd Jack Lengyl, United States Senator Joe Manchin and Medal of Honor recipient Woody Williams all took the field with the Herd.