HUNTINGTON – After both finished record-breaking seasons, it was no surprise that Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato and receiver Tommy Shuler both were named Tuesday to the all-Conference USA team.
Cato and Shuler were the Thundering Herd's sole first-team selections. Three Herd players – tight end Gator Hoskins, receiver Aaron Dobson and strong safety Dominick LeGrande – were second-team selections. Eight others earned honorable mention and four more were named to the all-freshman team. The teams were decided by C-USA's coaches.
Cato led the Football Bowl Subdivision in completions per game (33.83), passing yards per game (350.08), was third in touchdown passes (37) and fifth in both total offense (352.67 yards per game) and completions percentage (69.5). He set the Marshall single-season completions mark with 406 and his 66.2 percent career completion percentage currently is the best in Marshall history.
Shuler's 110 catches in 2012 made him just the fifth C-USA player, and first underclassman, to pass the single-season century mark. It eclipsed Mike Barber's 106 catches in 1987 as the best single-season total in Herd history. He finished with 1,138 yards and six touchdowns.
Cato and Shuler were the 15th and 16th all-C-USA first team selections for Marshall since the Herd joined the conference in 2005. Marshall has had at least two first team picks every season since 2009.
Hoskins' 10 touchdowns were the most for a tight end in the country. He caught 35 passes for 374 yards. Dobson, a preseason all-C-USA pick who missed two games with a knee injury, was seventh in the conference in catches (5.7) and receiving yards (67.9) per game. He caught a career high 57 passes for 679 yards and three touchdowns. LeGrande, a Boston College transfer, was second-best in C-USA and eighth-best in the FBS with 11.0 tackles per game. He added two interceptions, five pass breakups and a forced fumble.
Receiver Antavious Wilson, offensive linemen Jordan Jeffries, Chris Jasperse and Alex Schooler, defensive end Alex Bazzie, defensive tackle Brandon Sparrow, free safety Okechukwu Okoroha and kicker Justin Haig all earned honorable mention. Running back Kevin Grooms, who led all C-USA freshmen with 67.0 rushing yards per game, reached the all-freshman team with offensive lineman Cameron Dees, outside linebacker D.J. Hunter and punter Tyler Williams.
Williams was conspicuously left off the all-C-USA first and second teams and the honorable mention list, despite finishing second in the conference with 45.2 yards per punt. The conference's top punter, all-C-USA first teamer Richie Leone, averaged 45.5 yards per punt.
Conference USA's individual awards will be released Wednesday. Cato should be one of the leading candidates for the conference's offensive player of the year.
2012 C-USA FOOTBALL ALL-CONFERENCE TEAMS
QB- Rakeem Cato, So., Marshall
RB- Zach Line, Sr., SMU
RB- Latavius Murray, Sr., UCF
RB- Darrin Reaves, So., UAB
OL- Jacolby Ashworth, Sr., Houston
OL- Brian DeShane, Sr., Tulsa
OL- Jared Grigg, Sr., Tulsa
OL- Chris Hubbard, Sr., UAB
OL- Jordan Rae, Sr., UCF
TE- Vance McDonald, Sr., Rice
WR- Ryan Grant, Jr., Tulane
WR- Justin Hardy, So., East Carolina
WR- Tommy Shuler, So., Marshall
DL- Jamie Collins, Sr., Southern Miss
DL- Troy Davis, Sr., UCF
DL- Cory Dorris, Sr., Tulsa
DL- Margus Hunt, Sr., SMU
LB- DeAundre Brown, Sr., Tulsa
LB- Ja'Gared Davis, Sr., SMU
LB- Phillip Steward, Sr., Houston
DB- Phillip Gaines, Jr., Rice
DB- D.J. Hayden, Sr., Houston
DB- Kemal Ishmael, Sr., UCF
DB- Dexter McCoil, Sr., Tulsa
K- Cairo Santos, Jr., Tulane
P- Richie Leone, Jr., Houston
KR- Quincy McDuffie, Sr., UCF
PR- J.J. Worton, So., UCF
LS- Billy Johnson, Gr., Tulane
QB- Blake Bortles, So., UCF
RB- Vintavious Cooper, Jr., East Carolina
RB- Charles Sims, Jr., Houston
OL- Bryan Collins, Sr., SMU
OL- Jordan Devey, Sr., Memphis
OL- Trent Dupy, Sr., Tulsa
OL- Will Simmons, Jr., East Carolina
OL- Torrian Wilson, So., UCF
TE- Gator Hoskins, Jr., Marshall
WR- Aaron Dobson, Sr., Marshall
WR- Keyarris Garrett, So., Tulsa
WR- Darius Johnson, Sr., SMU