Rakeem Cato

HQ&A

Interview by Keith Morehouse

Growing up in Miami, Marshall’s Star Quarterback knows how to handle the heat.

It’s early July, and it’s sizzling on the sun-cooked field turf at Marshall stadium. Marshall’s football players are involved in individual workouts, and in these temperatures shirts are optional. But if you grew up in Miami, you know how to handle the heat. That will be the mission of Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato again this season. He was the Conference USA Most Valuable Player in 2012, the first underclassman ever accorded that honor. He led Football Bowl Subdivision in passing yards per game (350) and completions (406), and his 37 touchdown passes were good enough for 3rd nationally. He’s already on the watch list for the Maxwell Award, given annually to the best player in college football. The junior was able to take a few days off to travel back home to Dade County before camp started. If you think he was hanging out at the beach or cruising the streets of Liberty City, you don’t know his priorities. He had what you might call a working vacation. We sat down with him to talk preseason hype, awards and even where he likes to eat.

What did you do when you had down time at home?
I just rested. My family knows what’s going on. They’d rather me be working out than running the streets. Down in Miami, it’s easy to get off track. Even for one minute, it’s real easy. I just stay in the right lane, where everything I do has to be positive.
I protect myself, not coming in late, doing everything with a positive mindset.

Do you push yourself away from football for a bit or do you still work out?
I still work out. I work on my arm strength, work on my feet, keep doing things that can better me. I have a few wideouts I still run with – guys like Ty Hilton (Indianapolis Colts) and a couple of other guys I know from the NFL.

What about the Maxwell Award mention? That’s a nice compliment.
That is a nice compliment. But it’s not about the yards or the touchdowns. Once you win that will all take care of itself. I’m just trying to win from the first game to the last game, to have an unbelievable season.

Are you a little more vocal now that you’re a junior and you’ve been around the block?
Yeah a little more vocal. I’m telling them how I see things from my viewpoint and how I like things done, where the ball’s supposed to be and where they’re supposed to be when the route breaks down.

You’re getting a lot of good preseason publicity; do you pay attention to that?
They can say a lot of great stuff about us but at the end of the day we have to get it done. We have to play hard and go out there and be humble and give it our all every play.

Phil Steele’s magazine calls you the most improved team in the country.
We’re just on one mindset. Everybody’s buying into what Coach (Doc) Holliday, Coach (Bill) Legg and Coach (Chuck) Heater are doing. Coach (Scott) Sinclair’s (Strength and Conditioning Coach) doing a helluva job this summer, working us out, putting on weight, lifting more, getting way stronger. It’s been a good summer.

Did you surprise yourself last year?
I did. At the end of the year I looked back and looked at my standards and numbers. I had no clue I’d thrown for that many yards and that many touchdowns. It was a great season for me, but we still have to win. It’s about winning.

Are you more optimistic this year than any year since you’ve been here?
Yes. As long as we win I’m satisfied. I could throw for one yard and one touchdown as long as we win. Just to have everybody around me happy, knowing we’re winning, is a great feeling.

What do you like to do off the field?
I stay home and play video games with Tommy (Shuler), Craig (Wilkins), Keith (Baxter) and (AJ) Leggett. Every now and then we’ll go out to eat at Hibachi. We’ll go to the mall or catch a movie every now and then, but mostly video games and working out.

Do you have a favorite restaurant?
I like Hibachi. And Fat Patty’s – we’re there a lot. They have great burgers.

KEITH MOREHOUSE is the sports director for WSAZ NewsChannel 3 in Huntington, W.Va.

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