Cato throws to 'Fro
HUNTINGTON — Gaining the trust of quarterbacks is nothing new for Marshall tight end Eric Frohnapfel.
Truth be told, it’s something he has mastered since birth.
Twin brother Blake, the Herd’s former backup quarterback, has played the position for years, so Eric Frohnapfel has plenty of in-depth knowledge about what quarterbacks are looking for on the field, thanks to those long brotherly talks.
This spring, however, has shown a new-found trust with a Herd quarterback that he doesn’t share a birthday with — Marshall star Rakeem Cato.
Cato and Frohnapfel have looked extremely comfortable this spring, connecting on several timing routes for big gains.
“It’s been a lot better,” Frohnapfel said. “I definitely think I’ve gained his trust a little bit and that’s the biggest thing. He’s got to be able to trust me.”
Gator Hoskins, former tight end who finished his eligibility last season, was one of Cato’s top targets over the last two years. In 2013, Hoskins caught 50 passes for 821 yards and 15 touchdowns.
“He trusted Gator and I’m trying to be that guy for him,” Frohnapfel said. “After plays, we’re talking about coverages and things like that so it seems like we’re getting more cohesive.”
That cohesiveness showed during Thursday’s spring practice at Edwards Stadium as Frohnapfel caught a pair of touchdown passes from Cato in double-coverage.
The first came as Frohnapfel ran an in-route along the back of the end zone. Cato threw it to Frohnapfel’s back shoulder to avoid the oncoming safety and Frohnapfel adjusted and made the catch in between both defenders.
As impressive as the catch was, it was the second-best TD catch for him on the day.
After the offense left the red zone drills, they went to skeleton drills and Frohnapfel ran the ever-popular seam route that tight ends love.
It was defended well as the initial coverage was in front and the safety came over to help, but Cato placed the ball on the back end-line from 40 yards out and Frohnapfel ran under it and got a foot down before all parties involved tumbled into the grassy knoll behind the end zone.
Last year, Cato most likely wouldn’t have risked the precision throw to Frohnapfel, but things have changed this spring.
“He trusts him like he trusted Gator,” Marshall tight ends coach Todd Hartley said. “He trusts that guy because he knows he’s going to be where he’s supposed to be when he’s supposed to be there. That’s attained through reps, completions, touchdowns and the guy has made some plays to earn No. 12’s (Cato’s) trust. When you earn No. 12’s trust, he never forgets that.”
Hartley added that Frohnapfel’s leadership has not been limited to his on-field production during spring.
“Eric’s taking more of a leadership role in my room,” Hartley said. “He’s not a very vocal guy. He’s a quiet guy but he leads by example. He works his butt off and he’s consistently good every day. He’s going to set the standard.”
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