Marshall football has always been known for the sad and unfortunate plane crash that killed the football players and coaches on it. Ever since then Marshall has always been struggling to overcome that and be a successful program. Over the years though with players like Byron Leftwich, Marshall has been able to have successful seasons and exceed expectations. This year Marshall returns a decent supporting cast, but returns one of the top WR’s in college football with Aaron Dobson. What Marshall does this year will rely on the shoulders of QB Rakeem Cato, and Dobson.
Aaron Dobson (6-3,200), WR- Dobson is the top player Marshall has on the team, and many could argue he was the best last year even with Vinny Curry there. Dobson is a strong physical WR who has surprisingly good quickness as well. He will never be someone who is a breakaway athlete, and his 40 time won’t reflect his game speed. When watching Dobson on film two things really stick out. One is that Dobson uses his body to his advantage and plays very physical. The other thing is that Dobson is a savvy route runner who is more refined than many of the other WR prospects in this class. The question with him though as it translates to the NFL is will he become anything more than a #2 WR? That all is really dependent on his 40 time and how teams will gameplan to use him in the NFL. At worst though Dobson will become one of the top #2 WR’s in the NFL because of how strong he is, how good his hands are, and how good of a route runner he already is.
Rakeem Cato*(6-0,182), QB- Cato is one of the more fun quarterbacks to watch that no one has heard about. I first watched Cato last year early on, and saw he was a good athlete who, despite his size, was able to make plays and prove he could be a good QB. Cato has a very awkward throwing motion and it almost to me looks like he’s throwing the football like a shot put. Still, Cato uses his athleticism to his advantage and is able to make plays outside of the pocket. I’m not too convinced that Cato will be much as a QB in terms of moving to the NFL, but Cato certainly has a chance to become a WR/QB type like Brad Smith has become in the NFL.
Tron Martinez (5-10 199), RB- Martinez is not a draftable prospect right now, but with the speed he has he could have a chance to become a RB who can be a solid 3rd round/pass-catching type RB in the NFL. Martinez needs to improve his balance and also his pass blocking ability in order to raise his stock value to NFL teams. What Martinez has that some players don’t is that speed. Martinez can hit the corner and it’ll be tough to catch him. I almost see Martinez as a poor mans Noel Devine who played at West Virginia. Martinez isn’t a big guy, but has great speed and can be a gamechanger. Devine was a small RB who was a gamechanger, but never developed his pass blocking ability and didn’t make it in the NFL. Right now I wouldn’t draft Martinez, and I don’t expect him to declare this year, but with 2 more years to improve he has a chance to be a 7th round or UDFA who could have a chance to stick on a roster or practice squad.
Marques Aiken (6-5,277), DT- Aiken is a guy who I’ve heard talk about being the next breakout D player for Marshall, but I never got a chance to sit down and really watch. When I did I saw a DT who has a good explosive step and can become a dynamic DT this year in college football. Aiken though is still a little raw in my mind, as he doesn’t really have an array of moves yet. He’s got a strong bull-rush and can get by his opponent because of his strength, but in order to be known as one of the top DT’s in this class Aiken will need to develop a second move. Also Aiken will need to add weight to his frame as 277 will not cut it at DT and that’s his natural position. Right now I have Aiken in that 4th-5th round range, but with the talk of the year Aiken could have, I think he could very well move into that 2nd round area once the year is over.