Grant Traylor: QB Cato bounces back from struggles
With all the hype and publicity Marshall University quarterback Rakeem Cato received during the early part of fall football camp, head coach Doc Holliday needed to do something to test the freshman's composure a little bit.
That's why Monday's practice might have been flagged for "intentional grounding."
"(Monday), we threw everything but the kitchen sink at him -- every blitz known to man, we threw at him and he hadn't seen any of it," Holliday said. "Naturally, he was going to struggle a little bit."
Talk circulated of Cato actually looking the part of a freshman on Monday, but those fears were expelled on Tuesday when the youngster from Miami returned to form while adjusting to the speed and the different nuances a defense can throw his way.
For Holliday, it was an important step in Cato's maturation process.
The young signal-caller has been noted for how emotional he gets on the field, and to this point in camp, all of that emotion had been positive as he has enjoyed lots of success.
But Holliday and his staff needed to see his body language and reactions after a day like Monday when things didn't go as planned.
Emotions certainly work two ways, as Marshall offensive coordinator Bill Legg said.
"No matter how hard you try, (every play) is not going to be perfect. What you have to be able to do is re-center yourself," Legg said. "Whether it was a huge play of success or a huge play negatively, you have to re-center yourself and be ready to go that next play.
"I'm not going to harness his emotion at all -- not even going to try -- as long as whatever emotion he lets out on play one, he's back in tune on play two. At the end of the day, that's what's got to happen."
What Holliday and his staff saw was the same quarterback they had seen in the first few days of camp.
Cato showed no ill-effects of Monday, bouncing around with teammates and having fun on the field while energizing the offense.
Perhaps, the day's biggest play for Cato was one to a fellow freshman.
Freshman running back Travon Van moved out into the slot during skeleton drills, got in behind the defense and Cato hit him perfectly in stride for a 45-yard score which left Cato bouncing down the field in celebration.
It was a play that showed Holliday exactly what he needed to see.
Even after an adverse day, Cato still had that same bounce in his step.
QUITE THE CONNECTION: A.J. Graham and Eric Frohnapfel appeared to build quite the chemistry during Tuesday's practice.
Frohnapfel was a favorite target of Graham's throughout much of the team period and made a pair of catches that drew attention from the media late in practice.
On the first pass, Graham threaded the ball between two defenders to Frohnapfel, who had to extend to his fullest to catch the pass down at the 3-yard line. A few plays later, the offense lined up from the 12-yard line and Frohnapfel ran a corner route with Graham hitting him perfectly at the back corner pylon for a score.
"He's a big guy and such a great kid, but further, he's got all the intangibles," Holliday said. "He runs well, makes plays and we are excited about what he brings to the table."
RECEIVERS RETURN: The wide receiver corps increased in numbers on Tuesday with the return of three players from injury.
Wide receivers Aaron Dobson, Antavious Wilson and Wayne Bonner were back in their white practice jerseys after spending Monday in blue (no-contact) skins.
Receivers still in the no-contact shirts included Demetrius Evans, Andre Booker and Tommy Shuler.
OUT OF PAINT: Marshall announced that Thursday's "Paint the Capital City Green" event at Charleston's Embassy Suites is sold out.
The 14th annual event in Charleston starts at 6 p.m. and features Marshall University president Stephen Kopp, Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick and Holliday as keynote speakers, along with several Thundering Herd football players.
The event features a pep rally-type atmosphere with a tailgate spread, Marco, the Marshall cheerleaders and dance team, and the Marshall Marching Thunder.
Grant Traylor is a sports reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or email@example.com.
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