HUNTINGTON,W.Va. -- The first time quarterback Rakeem Cato saw snow, it was on Marshall's campus.
A Miami native, he was used to the palm trees and sweltering heat of South Florida, a place where sweaters get as much use as surfboards in Huntington.
He grabbed his teammate, and former Miami Central teammate, Tommy Shuler and a couple more friends and headed outside.
"That was great," he said. "Me, Tommy and all those guys went outside, played in the snow, made snow angels. It's always awesome. Every time we see the stuff, we want to go outside."
When it comes to members of Marshall's football roster, Cato and Shuler weren't alone in that experience. Not by a long shot.
There currently are 33 Floridians on Marshall's football roster, second in Conference USA only to Central Florida's 68. And while there may be a culture shock in moving from metropolises like Orlando and Miami to West Virginia, the Sunshine State players have plenty of teammates who are sharing those same feelings.
Florida long has been known as a recruiting gold mine, where some high schools churn out multiple Division I players every year.
Marshall Coach Doc Holliday knows all about it. As an assistant coach at West Virginia, North Carolina State and Florida, that's been his territory - and a fertile one at that - since 1979.
"We've got big-time ties down there and people that know us," said Holliday, who is in his third season at Marshall. "I love those kids down there. Football's important to them and they're extremely tough kids."
Marshall's 33 Florida players nearly triples the number of third place in Conference USA, Southern Mississippi's 12.
With so many standout athletes in Florida, there are only so many spots in Florida schools, so many have to look beyond the state's borders.