Marshall launches Heisman campaign for QB Rakeem Cato

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Marshall senior Rakeem Cato has thrown for 8,117 yards in the past two seasons and has a legitimate chance to finish his career in the top five in NCAA history in touchdown passes.

In addition, he already owns some career records at a place that produced NFL first-round quarterbacks Byron Leftwich and Chad Pennington. He also has a shot at setting an NCAA record for consecutive games with a TD pass (he is at 32, and the record is 38 by Russell Wilson).

So why not hype Cato for the Heisman?

OK, so Cato has zero chance to win the award, but give it up for Marshall officials who are trying to make sure college football fans know about their record-setting quarterback. Marshall has launched a "Cato for Heisman" website, complete with stats, video highlights and a "What Others Are Saying" section.

Cato, who is listed at 6-foot and 188 pounds, obviously lacks prototypical quarterback size -- and, just as obviously, that hurts when talk turns to a potential NFL career -- but he certainly has put up big numbers anyway. He has thrown for 10,176 yards and 91 TDs on 886 completions in his career; he has a great chance to finish in the top five in FBS history in TD passes (he needs 33 to move into fifth place and 42 for fourth). Cato threw 39 TD passes last season and 37 in 2012.

In addition, he needs 141 completions, 2,968 yards and 25 TD passes to surpass Pennington as the school's career leader in all three categories. Cato already holds Marshall's record for completions in a season. He has a legit shot to set the school's completion-percentage record: Leftwich leads at 65.2 percent, while Cato is at 63.8 percent.

Cato enters the 2014 season as the preseason Conference USA Player of the Year and is a major reason the Thundering Herd could finish unbeaten. An unbeaten Herd team seemingly would be a lock to play in one of the four playoff-related bowls, most likely the Peach.

That he is putting up big numbers likely surprises no one who saw him star as a 165-pound quarterback in high school. Cato is one of the most prolific passing quarterbacks in Miami-Dade County history, and he led Miami Central to a 2010 state title in Florida's largest prep classification. That team was loaded with college prospects. Atlanta Falcons rookie Devonta Freeman, who went to Florida State, was the top rusher, and Louisville cornerback Charles Gaines, Louisville guard John Miller, Syracuse free safety Durell Eskridge, Florida Atlantic linebacker Andrae Kirk, Marshall wide receiver Tommy Shuler, Central Michigan cornerback Dennis Nalor and West Virginia offensive tackle Marquis Lewis were other seniors on that team who are expected to start for their college squads this fall.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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