It didn't help the soft-spoken defensive end's chances that he happened to play one of the few positions where the Wolfpack had plenty of depth, anchored by veterans Willie Young and Shea McKeen.
"It's tough seeing everybody else play in front of 60,000 people," Cato-Bishop said. "But you've got to wait your turn. It was frustrating because I came from a place where I always played right away. But redshirting actually helped me learn."
There was no shortage of lessons for the young lineman to pick up in his first semester with the team. An imposing physical presence at 6-foot-4 and 281 pounds, Cato-Bishop dominated in high school due to his brute strength and athleticism. But once he arrived on campus, coaches worked to perfect his fundamentals.
"It allowed me to work on my footwork, my hands - my moves," Cato-Bishop said. "Just learning how to stay low, keep my pad level low, and keep my hands in. It allowed me to be more physical as a football player."
Cato-Bishop also learned to change his mental approach to the game. Watching seniors like Young and McKeen, the freshman realized that a more business-like attitude was going to be needed at the college ranks.
"In high school some people goof around but in college it's kind of like a business," Cato-Bishop said. "Everybody is serious; some people can go further on – from college to pros – so they take it seriously."
But after a semester of soaking in all those lessons, Cato-Bishop is looking to apply them on the field and move his name up the depth chart.
When Tom O'Brien released his organizational chart prior to spring practice, Cato-Bishop was listed as a third-string defensive end. Now he's also receiving snaps at defensive tackle and is working his way up the depth chart with his play.
"Being redshirted I just want to get on the field and play. Any way I can help the team – I just want to play," Cato-Bishop said. "That's the focus, getting on the field and getting better each and every day."
So far in the spring he's taken a big step towards making his wish come true next season. He made an impression in his first scrimmage of the spring, totaling four tackles for loss and two sacks. He followed that up with another two sacks in the second scrimmage to go along with six tackles.
"I just try to be a force," he said. "Playing some defensive tackle has been a challenge, but I think with my speed and athleticism I can make a few plays."
Cato-Bishop gets his first chance to make an impression with the fans tomorrow during the Kay Yow Spring Game. He said he was looking forward to playing in front of someone other than the coaching staff for the first time in a long while.
"It's been awhile," Cato-Bishop said. "Last time I was in front of real fans playing it was during a basketball game, and this should be much different."