Gateway football players ready to finalize college plans on signing day
By: Michael Love
Sunday, February 4, 2018 | 11:00 PM
The Gateway football team garnered a great deal of attention near and far this fall as it earned the program's first WPIAL title in 31 years and a PIAA runner-up finish in Class 5A.
While the team made its mark, individuals caught the eye of college coaches. A couple of them will finalize their recruiting process this week with the start of the regular signing period.
Senior record-setting quarterback Brady Walker last week gave his verbal commitment to West Virginia Wesleyan.
“They gave me a great offer, and I feel it's the right fit for me,” Walker said. “I hope to start all four years.”
Walker said he doesn't know for sure if the coaches will have him redshirt this fall.
Gateway coach Don Holl said he felt Walker was talented enough to be more widely recruited. Walker received attention from schools in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and held close to a dozen scholarship offers from Division II schools at the time of his decision.
Among the schools that showed interest and he also was interested in included Seton Hill, Clarion, Fairmont State, West Virginia State and Glenville State.
“The reason that Baskin Robbins has all those flavors is that everyone wants something different,” Holl said. “It's the same with recruiting. There's a different fit for every kid, and vice versa. You hope they find a place where they are comfortable, athletically and academically. Brady was very comfortable with that program, where he fits in and what he can do there.”
Walker was selected as the Pennsylvania Class 5A Player of the Year for 2017 after throwing for 4,657 yards and 45 touchdowns.
His 8,816 career passing yards is second most on the WPIAL career list behind South Fayette's Brett Brumbaugh (11,084).
“Brady did so much for Gateway in his time with the program,” Holl said. “I saw him grow so much in the two years I worked with him.”
For the first time, the NCAA established an early signing period for Division I and II football from Dec. 20-22.
After that period, others announced verbal commitments. They will be able to make their decisions final during the traditional signing period that begins Wednesday and runs through April 1.
Gateway senior defensive back Travis Thompson joins a WPIAL pipeline to Slippery Rock and also will sign Wednesday.
“Slippery Rock is a great Division II program with a lot of recent success,” Holl said. “Travis has found a good place for him.”
Thompson found a Gateway connection in the Slippery Rock coaching staff during the college recruiting process. Former Gators wide receiver and defensive back Corey Brown, who played at Ohio State, is in his second season as an assistant working with the cornerbacks.
Holl said seniors such as Brandon Cain, Canaan Cleveland, Isaiah Cameron, Nate Slaughter and Zach Storch are continuing to weigh their options.
Gateway underclassmen continue to get attention, as well.
Junior Courtney Jackson, who formed a lethal passing combination with Walker this season, has offers from Akron, Toledo, Bowling Green, Miami (Ohio) and West Point, Holl said. Interest also has come in from schools such as Temple, Northwestern, Duke and West Virginia.
“We will see,” Holl said. “He has a really impressive highlight video. He also has a lot going for him academically.”
Junior wideout and safety Jeremiah Josephs, Holl said, has offers from Miami (Ohio) and Toledo, and sophomore wideout/linebacker Tui Brown has an offer from Howard.
Freshman Derrick Davis exploded onto the scene for Gateway in 2017, and the running back/wide receiver/linebacker has offers from Pitt, Penn State, Temple and West Virginia.
“It's going to continue as he matures and gets better,” Holl said.