COLUMBUS, Ohio - Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato was named one of the “2013 Players to Watch” this weekend by the Touchdown Club of Columbus, Ohio (www.tdcolumbus.com).
The TDC considers Cato, a junior to be from Miami, Fla., as a prime candidate for the 2013 Sammy Baugh Award, presented to the nation’s top passer.
That award was won by the Herd’s Chad Pennington in 1999.
Along with Pennington, the TDC has also hosted Marshall’s Randy Moss, winning the club’s Paul Warfield Receiving Award for the 1997 season, and former MU QB Byron Leftwich in past years.
Other TDC “Players to Watch in 2013” included:
Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr (MWC Player of the Year);
Louisiana Tech running back Kenneth Dixon (WAC Freshman of the Year). Louisiana Tech will join Conference USA next season as a full member;
San Jose State quarterback David Fales;
Toledo running back David Fluellen (All-MAC first team);
Nevada running back Stefphon Jefferson, an All-American;
Miami running back Duke Johnson, an All-American;
Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch, an All-American who led the Huskies to MAC title and Orange Bowl berth;
Northwestern running back Venric Mark;
Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins;
Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier (All-Big Ten first team), and;
Boise State quarterback Joe Southwick.
The announcement capped a big week for the Marshall quarterback, who was named Conference USA’s MVP by league coaches and C-USA Offensive Player of the Year by CollegeSportsMadness.com.
He also claimed first team honors from both outlets.
Cato leads the FBS in completions/game (33.83) and passing yards/game (350.08).
He is third in TD passes (37), fifth in total offense/game (352.67) and completion percentage (69.5) and leads C-USA in pass efficiency (147.1).
Cato led a Herd unit that is second in the nation in third-down conversion percentage (54.59) and first downs per game (29.42).
His 66.2 percent career completion mark (588-of-888) is currently a school record, just ahead of Pennington (65.1) and Leftwich (63.4).
Earlier this season, he was named to the Manning Award Watch List (nation’s top collegiate quarterback).
His MVP honor marked the first time C-USA awarded it to an underclassman and it was the Herd’s first since joining Conference USA.
He also became the first Marshall offensive player to win a top conference award since Leftwich was named the Mid-American Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2002.
All 12 of the TDC's 2013 Players To Watch will be presented during the 58th Touchdown Club of Columbus Awards Banquet on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013 at The Lifestyle Communities Pavilion.