Miami (Fla.) Central quarterback Rakeem Cato was one of the most prolific passers in the state of Florida the past two seasons at nearby Miami Gardens before transferring this offseason. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound passer saw a couple of scholarship offers come his way early.
Recently, Cato decided to end the recruiting process. He made a commitment to a local school, hoping to continue to put up big numbers while staying in Miami.
"I committed to FIU," Cato said. "I did it maybe a week and a half ago. I also had an offer from Marshall. I'm not sure if any other schools were close to offering. I was just focused on FIU. I knew that's where I wanted to be."
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Cato says there were numerous reasons for choosing the Panthers, chief among them being his relationship with the coaching staff.
"I like the system there," he said. "I also liked how hard they were recruiting me. They showed me that they wanted me more than any other team did. I also really like their academic program."
Cato was being recruited to FIU by Frank Ponce and the area recruiter was the first to learn about his commitment.
"I called coach Ponce and let him know," Cato said of his decision to pledge to the Panthers. "They were all really excited to have me on board. They just told me that they were happy that I made a great decision."
A lot is expected of Cato at his new school. Central was nationally-ranked a year ago and is one of the top teams in the state headed into the season. He has a familiar face in wide receiver Tommy Shuler, who also transferred from Miami Gardens, as well as two other top receivers in Charles Gaines Jr. and Durell Eskridge.
"There are very high expectations on us here," Cato said. "We're trying to win a state championship for the first time in Miami Central history. With the talent we have, both on offense and defense, we know we can do that. We've really come together as a team."
Cato enters the season very close to breaking the career passing record for Miami-Dade county. Ironically, it is class of 2010 Miami Central quarterback Jeffrey Godfrey who currently holds the record.
"I'm like 142 yards or something away from breaking the record," Cato said. "That's really exciting to me. There have been a lot of good quarterbacks down here so, if I have the record, it would mean that I am up there with them."
Cato has thrown for 4,686 yards in his career, including passing for 2,777 yards and 37 touchdowns a year ago.