Written by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
Edited by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)
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When it comes to the crème de la crème of this year's college quarterback crop, the names to arise are most likely Jameis Winston, Everett Golson, Dak Prescott, Bryce Petty and Marcus Mariota. While each of those quarterbacks are amazing athletes with an insane amount of talent, there is another signal caller from Marshall University that the nation should already know about, but seems to be forgetting. His name is Rakeem Cato and not only is he one of the best quarterbacks in the college game, but he is just as deserving as anybody to win this year's Heisman Trophy.
The first time that I witnessed Cato's skill set was during the 2013 Military Bowl, as the Marshall Thundering Herd were playing the Maryland Terrapins, in what seemed to be a fairly even match-up. After that game, Cato had my attention, along with the rest of college football. The junior threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-20 victory over Maryland. Sometimes, when a kid is having a really good day, a game like that can be considered a fluke. But if you look at his 2014 numbers to this point, Cato definitely took that bowl game momentum into this season and ran with it.
Currently leading the Herd to an undefeated record of 7-0 (3-0 in Conference USA), Cato has thrown for 1,912 yards (more than Jameis Winston, Bryce Petty, Bo Wallace and Brett Hundley), 19 touchdowns (tied for 7th nationally with Marcus Mariota and Everett Golson) and is responsible for 144 points this season (tied for 4th nationally with J.T. Barrett). On top of his Heisman-worthy stats, the Miami, Florida native just broke Russell Wilson's record of 38-straight games with a passing touchdown as he just recently earned number 39 in a 45-13 victory over Florida International.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that Cato and the Thundering Herd aren’t playing the caliber of teams that Mississippi State, Baylor, Notre Dame and Oregon are playing, but it is the way that they have dominated their opponents that shows how good Marshall really is. During the 2014 season, Marshall has defeated their opposition by an average of just over 30 points per game. In four of those wins, Cato has thrown for at least 260 yards and 2 touchdowns. I also understand that Rhode Island, Akron and Old Dominion aren’t banging on the door of college football success, but Cato still put up those types of numbers even without playing the whole game. He may not get the exposure that Mariota, Prescott and Winston get, but to me, Rakeem Cato can line up toe to toe with any one of those players.
Whether Rakeem Cato gets invited to the Heisman Trophy ceremony or not, he knows that he and his team have done everything they could to not only get Cato the spotlight, but to get Marshall football back on the national radar as well. I may not have a Heisman vote, but if it means anything, number 12 has definitely made an impression on me.