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Hoskins makes case for Mackey

Nov. 23, 2013 @ 11:25 PM

MIAMI — Earlier in the week, Marshall University tight end Gator Hoskins was named as a semifinalist for the Mackey Award that is presented to the nation’s top tight end.

On Saturday, he made a case to become a finalist, which will be announced Monday evening.

Hoskins caught six passes for 137 yards and three touchdowns from quarterback Rakeem Cato to lead Marshall in a 41-10 win over FIU.

“I’m not the type of guy like that — I’m a team guy — but you know, when I caught one and I caught the second, I looked at Cato and said ‘Let’s go give them something to think about,’” Hoskins said. “He came back to me and I got a third one, so hopefully they’ve got a lot of thinking to do after tonight.”

All week, Marshall head coach Doc Holliday spoke of how Hoskins is a matchup problem for the defense and that showed itself early and often Saturday.

Hoskins got the Thundering Herd on the board with a 25-yard touchdown early in the second quarter and his second and third touchdowns came on similar routes.

The effort came as a result of Hoskins and Cato communicating throughout the game as to what the defense was doing.

FIU defenders had studied the routes Hoskins and Cato liked to hook up on, and the safety was trying to undercut the passes in the areas where the ball was normally thrown. An adjustment in the huddle allowed Cato to air the ball out a bit more and let Hoskins get behind the safety for all three touchdowns.

“It’s just a feel for each other,” Hoskins said. “We’ve been here three years together and I’ve got a feel for him. Even in practice, going over plays a lot in practice and knowing what I like to do and knowing how he likes to throw the ball. It’s just something we’ve got going on.”

The 6-foot-2, 244-pound tight end from Gainesville, Fla. added touchdown receptions of 15 yards and 32 yards on which he got behind the defense and Cato threw over top of the safety, who had tried to undercut the route.

Hoskins also had a highlight-reel, one-handed catch of 40 yards to set up his own 15-yard score. And, he showed his versatility by catching a ball on a screen and trucking over a smaller defender in the boundary for a 16-yard gain to set up a touchdown before the end of the half for Tommy Shuler.

“He’s got a great feel and he’s a tremendous player when the ball is in the air and a tremendous athlete,” Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. “He and Cato found a way to connect and give us a couple of big plays early.”

Hoskins’ 137 receiving yards was the most by a Marshall tight end since 2007 when Cody Slate had 177 yards in a loss to New Hampshire.

In addition to making the case for the Mackey Award, Hoskins broke Slate’s record for career touchdowns by a Marshall tight end. Coming into the game, he trailed Slate, who had 23 from 2006-09, by one score, and his 15-yard score in the third quarter broke the mark.

For good measure, Hoskins’ 32-yard score late in the third quarter put him in sole possession of fourth all-time among Marshall receivers for receiving touchdowns with 25. He trails Randy Moss (53, 1996-97), Darius Watts (47, 2000-03) and Mike Barber (26, 1985-88).

This wasn’t the first three-touchdown performance of his career, however. That came last season in a 51-41 loss to Purdue.

This one was much sweeter for Hoskins.

“It’s a lot better,” he said. “Being in front of my family here in Florida, my friends and stuff, you know, they got to come to see me. It’s one step closer to the championship and it’s one of my last games.

“I’m a senior, so it’s all good.”

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