Dec 27, 2013; Annapolis, MD, USA; Marshall Thundering Herd quarterback Rakeem Cato (12) throws the ball to Thundering Herd wide receiver Tommy Shuler (1) as Maryland Terrapins defensive back William Likely (4) defends in the third quarter during the 2013 Military Bowl at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The Thundering Herd won 31-20. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Rakeem Cato is Everywhere, Darryl Roberts is Strong, and other Herd news

We could dedicate almost this entire edition of Gathering the Herd to Rakeem Cato, and we’ll start off with him, but he isn’t the only one getting attention.

Rakeem Cato graces the pages of Sports Illustrated

The most talked about man in Huntington was featured in Sport Illustrated this week, hitting on the usual points of growing up and maturing both on and off the field. He talked to the Herald Dispatch’s Grant Traylor about the experience.

“It’s all new to me,” Cato said. “I’m just a kid from Miami just trying to do the right things and trying to do the best thing I can to provide for my family. I just kept believing in God and believing in myself before anyone else believed in me and I just kept going hard.”

If you aren’t subscribed to SI, the edition is work picking up.

Marshall ranked No. 20 by USA Today

Not too shabby, not too shabby at all. USA Today put the Herd at No.20 in their preseason rankings, while Sports Illustrated had them at No. 25.

Cato on Manning Watch List

Cato should be on all lists. ALL OF THEM. Go to Kroger, tell them Cato’s on your grocery list. See if they can help you.

The Herd have been thundering on to watch lists all over the nation this preseason and leading the way is the leader of the Marshall offense who got some more accolades this week. Senior quarterback Rakeem Cato, a 2014 Heisman Trophy, Walter Camp and Maxwell Award candidate, has been named to the watch list for the 2015 Manning Award.

It is Cato’s fifth national watch list mention in the current preseason. He also is on watch lists for the Walter Camp, Maxwell, Davey O’Brien National Quarterback and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm awards.

Marshall on list of uninvited party crashers

In SI’s “Worst-case scenarios for Year 1 of the College Football Playoff”, the Herd is listed as one of the most likely candidate for sneaking their way into this year’s four-team playoff. ESPN also has them down on a short list of teams ready and waiting to punch on the opportunity.

From Miami, to Marshall, to (other) Miami

Ricardo Williams is looking to have a party in the Miami Redhawks backfield later this month, all defensive players are invited. The Miami transfer has been away from the football field for almost two years and switched positions, but according to the HD’s Traylor, he’s doing well with the adjustment.

“Oh, I’m ready,” Williams said. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time now. We’re ready to get this party started this year.”

For Williams, it has been a long time coming.

Williams’ first game back in NCAA Division I football will be 686 days since his first and only game for the Miami Hurricanes.

That isn’t the only change for Williams during his trek from south Florida to Marshall.

He was a defensive end with the Hurricanes, and started out as one for the Herd. However, he was switched to an interior defensive line position in the offseason and has flourished.

Wide Receivers rising to the challenge

With Gator Hoskins and Devon Smith gone, the Herd could use some help spreading the field for Tommy Shuler and according to the Daily Mail’s Derek Redd, the group is starting to shape up after the Herd’s latest practice.

So there has been talk of Marshall’s outside receivers needing to raise their level of play in 2014, considering they didn’t give slot receiver Tommy Shuler a whole lot of help in 2013. If Saturday’s scrimmage is any indication, that group is up to the challenge.

Those wideouts made plenty of pretty catches, and a heap of touchdowns, through the around-90-minute exhibition Saturday night in Joan C. Edwards Stadium. After a slow start for the offense, quarterback Rakeem Cato’s first completion was a jumping 27-yard touchdown strike to freshman Angelo Jean-Louis. Not one to let the youngsters get all the glory, redshirt junior Davonte Allen had two fantastic grabs, a 42-yarder down the visitors sideline that Cato threw from his own 1, then a 22-yard touchdown he caught over 2013 Conference USA co-freshman of the year Corey Tindal.

Darryl Robert is strong

No seriously, Darryl Roberts can probably rip your arms off and beat you with him. Stay on his good side.

The fifth-year senior positioned himself one summer day under the bench press bar. On that bar was 225 pounds, the weight NFL prospects lift at the annual draft combine. Over and over again, Roberts pushed that weight off his chest and into the air.

“I stopped counting after 11,” senior receiver Tommy Shuler said.

Roberts doubled that, knocking out 22 reps at 225. That matched the top total among corners at the 2014 combine, set by Florida Atlantic’s Keith Reaser and Florida’s Jaylen Watkins. The 2014 draft’s top pick, defensive end Jadaveon Clowney, only put up 21.

Redd churns out another quality piece worth reading about how Roberts is positioning himself for a strong senior year.

Frohnapfel FM

Eric Frohnapfel shows off his ability has a host as WMUL gave him a microphone and he went to work grilling his teammates with hard hitting questions.

Another day, another list

Cato, Tommy Shuler, and James Rouse all found themselves on the Sun Herald’s Conference USA watch list.

1. Marshall QB Rakeem Cato (Senior): The reigning C-USA Offensive Player of the Year has received some buzz as a dark-horse Heisman Trophy candidate. With Cato at the controls last year, Marshall ranked seventh in the nation in scoring offense (42.1 points a game). Marshall has a fairly soft schedule this season and has a shot at an undefeated season.

3. Marshall WR Tommy Shuler (Senior): Cato’s favorite target the last two years, Shuler has been a reception machine. In the last two seasons, Shuler has a total of 216 catches for 2,303 yards and 16 touchdowns. The former high school teammate of Cato should put up more huge numbers in 2014.

5. Marshall DT James Rouse (Senior): The preseason C-USA Defensive Player of the Year, Rouse was a big part of the Thundering Herd’s resurgence on defense last year. He had 14.0 tackles for lost yardage and six sacks last year to make first-team all-conference.

Grooms transferring to Liberty?

I guess if he isn’t in jail he can play?

Kevin Grooms, a former Conference USA freshman of the year who was dismissed from Marshall’s football team last month, will enroll at Liberty, the school announced Saturday.

Herd softball player representing Puerto Rico in ISF XIV World Championships

We aren’t just Herd football and basketball here. Incoming freshmen Elicia D’Orazio will represent Puerto Rico in an upcoming international competition. 

Marshall Softball freshman Elicia D’Orazio hasn’t even stepped onto Dot Hicks Field, but she already is making a name for herself on the world stage.

D’Orazio, an incoming freshman infielder from Montverde, Fla., has been selected to participate in the ISF XIV World Championships in the Netherlands as a member of the Puerto Rican National Team.

Tags: Elicia D'Orazio James Rouse Kevin Grooms Marshall Thundering Herd Rakeem Cato Ricardo Williams Tommy Shuler

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