Cato named player of year
HUNTINGTON - Marshall University's football team garnered two of the most prestigious awards Conference USA has to offer on Wednesday afternoon.
Sophomore quarterback Rakeem Cato earned the C-USA Most Valuable Player award while running back Kevin Grooms was named as the C-USA Freshman of the Year in voting by the head coaches.
It provided a nice solace for what was a disappointing finish to the season as the Thundering Herd missed out on a bowl game following a 65-59 double-overtime loss at East Carolina.
Cato, who was named the all-conference first team quarterback on Tuesday, leads the nation in passing yards per game at 350.08 and completions (33.83).
His 66.2 percent completion rate is a school record, surpassing the marks of Chad Pennington (65.1) and Byron Leftwich (63.4).
Cato engineered an offense that averaged 40.9 points per game with much based on the strength of the passing attack. The 6-0, 182-pound sophomore from Miami threw for 4,201 yards and 37 touchdowns with only 11 interceptions on the season.
When teams tried to take the passing attack away, freshman running back Kevin Grooms spearheaded the Herd's rushing attack.
While splitting time with fellow freshmen Steward Butler and Remi Watson, Grooms finished with 737 yards and eight touchdowns while also catching a touchdown out of the backfield.
Grooms' breakout game came against Rice -- a contest in which he rushed for 103 yards and three touchdowns while catching a 5-yard touchdown catch in the Herd's 54-51 overtime win.
He later broke his career-high rushing total in a single-game against Houston, finishing with 155 yards on 21 carries in the 44-41 win over Houston.
Grooms was the first Marshall football player to receive a conference football Freshman of the Year award since 1996 when Randy Moss won the honor as Southern Conference Freshman of the Year, as voted on by the media.