Military Bowl Priority No. 1: Marshall QB Rakeem Cato

Military Bowl Priority No. 1: Marshall QB Rakeem Cato
December 23, 2013, 1:15 pm
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Edsall says it's an 'honor' to play in Military Bowl

(Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

ANNAPOLIS--If you don’t yet know who Rakeem Cato is, it’s probably best you educate yourself because the junior quarterback from Miami, Fla., will be priority No. 1 for Maryland’s defense when it faces Marshall in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27.

At 6-0, 188 pounds, Cato doesn’t necessarily have the size that most Division-I quarterbacks at this level have, but what he lacks in size he makes up for with his numbers.

Cato has led Marshall to a 9-4, including 7-1 in Conference USA play, on his way to throwing for 3579 yards and 36 touchdowns while throwing nine interceptions.  

Marshall coach Doc Holliday spoke glowingly about him in a pre-bowl press conference in Annapolis.

“Randy [Edsall] will tell you, at that position, it’s such an intangible position that you want a guy there with those type of [skills],” he said. “He’s continued to grow and mature. Being his third year, he’s grown up a lot. He’s managing the offense better and he’s done a better job for us.”

Though Cato won’t necessarily beat you on the ground rushing, he is a mobile enough quarterback that Maryland will need to contain him, much like they did in a road win over Virginia Tech earlier this season.

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Cato has rushed for 279 yard and six touchdowns on the year, with his biggest game on the ground coming in the season opener against Miami (OH) when he had 59 yards.

He is an experienced quarterback, having played now close to three full seasons under center for the Thundering Herd.

“He came to us, played for us as a true freshman, shouldn’t have,” Holliday said. “We ended up winning seven games that year and went to a bowl game with him as a true freshman.

“He was not ready to play as a true freshman. No true freshman ought to play at this level of Division-I, but he had to. So I think he grew from that experience, got a little better the next year.”

Look for Maryland linebacker Marcus Whitfield to be the catalyst for Maryland’s pass rush, along with defensive lineman Andre Monroe.

If they can neutralize the tough Cato, Marshall’s potent scoring offense becomes more containable. Not that it will be easy.

“He’s very, maybe the most competitive kid I’ve ever been around,” Holliday said. “He goes out there every day in practice and expects to win every down, every snap. It’s just the way he is.”

To purchase tickets to the 2013 Military Bowl in Annapolis, Md., click here.

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