Cato growing off the field
HUNTINGTON — When Rakeem Cato came to Marshall, he was a wiry kid weighing all of 147 pounds.
Now, Cato has filled out into a 6-foot, 184-pound quarterback who is the reigning Conference USA Player of the Year.
Don't think he's just content with all that, though.
Cato has continued to pound the weightroom in the offseason in an effort to improve his game.
"When I came here to Marshall, I came in lifting 65 pounds," Cato said. "Now, I'm benching 275, squatting 405 and you can see the improvement on the field."
Cato's weight only increased two pounds -- from 182 to 184 -- but it's the added strength to the weight he has that's really turning heads around spring practice.
The junior quarterback's arm strength is visibly much improved and Cato even displayed a little shiftiness and ability to make hard cuts on a scramble.
"It's great knowing that I can get bigger and stronger to help me out physically," Cato said. "I've been going hard and pushing myself with (Marshall strength) coach (Scott) Sinclair. Everything is just improving."
Most would think that a quarterback's most important gains would need to be specifically through his arm, but Cato said the concentration this offseason has been on his core and his lower-body.
"I've got a lot of leg power under my arm strength," Cato said. "Coach Sinclair makes us go very hard on squats -- he wants us to get low -- and hang cleans. You can see a lot of improvement on a lot of guys out here because of what he's done."
For Cato, it isn't just about his own personal gains; it's about making sure he shows the leadership to his team that football is truly a year-round sport if the team is to be successful.
Especially after last year's disappointment, he is intent on making sure to set the bar high for 2013.
"Like Coach Holliday always tells me, a leader sets their standards high and makes sure everyone around them lives up to them," Cato said. "Being the Conference Player of the Year, I can't slack because everyone is watching what I'm doing. I have to make sure my game is on point at all times."
Cato and his teammates have had the weekend off and return to the field at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
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