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Andrew Ramspacher: Cato able to keep pace with first team

Aug. 12, 2011 @ 12:05 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Rakeem Cato says he's been growing his beard since his freshman year of high school.

The stress of college football hasn't turned it gray yet.

The Marshall freshman quarterback has taken his reps with the first-team offense in stride during the first two days of full-squad practices.

"I'm comfortable in that role," Cato said. "I just have to adjust to the speed. That's all.

"Everything else is good."

Partly because he's walked into a near carbon copy system to the one he ran last season at Miami Central High.

"It's very similar," said MU head coach Doc Holliday. "He's been in the (shot)gun. He's run the spread offense all through high school with (freshman receiver) Tommy Shuler and those guys.

"He probably was a little ahead of Blake (Frohnapfel) because he's done that. His offense has been more pass-oriented. He's been spread whereas Blake has been more of an underneath center type guy. But both those freshmen, I'm sure glad they're here because they're both production players."

Contrary to Wednesday's practice, it was sophomore A.J. Graham who went No. 2 in the QB rotation behind Cato on Thursday. Sullivan was next, followed by Frohnapfel.

Graham showed some spark in 11-on-11s, dropping in a nice touch screen to Demetrius Evans for a big gain as well as finding a wide-open Shuler across the middle, who easily went in for a 50-yard-plus touchdown.

Saturday's 10:45 a.m. scrimmage should paint a more vivid picture for who nudges forward as things enter the second week of camp.

Cato will try not to look surprised if defensive coordinator Chris Rippon and gang throw a few added blitzes their way.

"Oh, yeah," he said. "We went over that today so that won't be a big thing. Just call my protections out and just identify the right guys on defense.

"So that won't be a problem."

VAN DAY-TO-DAY: Freshman Travon Van dressed but didn't participate in practice on Thursday.

But calm down. Nothing serious going on with the highlight-making running back, said Holliday.

"It'll be a day or two," the second-year coach said of Van's return. "It was a precautionary thing with him. We just don't want something to turn into a nagging thing.

"We want to get it corrected now so it's not a nagging thing a week or two down the road."

Holliday didn't specify what the injury was.

YOUBOUTY COMES BACK: Because of congenital narrowing of the spinal column in his back, John Youbouty's career was thought to be over at this point last year.

He was a Marshall defensive end coming off a 4.5 sack season in 2009, but the damage to his back was thought to be too serious for clearance by the Marshall doctors.

But he's found medical clearance elsewhere.

Youbouty is in camp and practicing at Temple.

"I love John Youbouty," Holliday said. "The thing about Youbouty is our doctors medically ruled him out to play football here at Marshall. And not only did our doctors, but doctors from a lot of other universities did the same thing.

"Temple, I guess their doctors evidently cleared him to go play, so I hope it works out. John's a great kid and I'm happy for him.

"As a coach, I have great confidence in our doctors and they made the right decision there."

SEASON TICKETS: In less than a month, Marshall's 2011 home opener takes place against Southern Miss at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

Season tickets are on sale at the Marshall ticket office, located inside the Cam Henderson Center.

Also, there will be a Choose-A-Seat Day on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., which will run in correlation with Marshall's opening intrasquad scrimmage.

QB CLUB: Marshall's Quarterback Club is commemorating its 25th anniversary in 2011 at the Quarterback Club Kickoff Dinner on Aug. 20 in the Don Morris Room at the Memorial Student Center.

For more information, contact John Sutherland in the Big Green office at (304) 696-3230.

Andrew Ramspacher is a sports reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or aramspacher@herald-dispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/aramspacher.

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